Affordable Housing

  • Millions of poor families could benefit from housing aid Trump wants to cut, By Tracy Jan, August 10, 2017, Washington Post: “The number of poor families struggling to pay their monthly rents or living in deplorable accommodations has grown 41 percent since the beginning of the Great Recession a decade ago, despite a stronger national economy, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 8.3 million very low-income households in 2015 qualified for, but did not receive, federal housing assistance because there is not enough to go around, according to the agency’s latest biennial assessment of ‘worst case housing needs.’ That approaches the record high of 8.5 million in 2011 after historic increases during the mortgage foreclosure crisis…”
  • More than half of L.A.’s 1 million poor households live in unaffordable or substandard rentals, study says, By Gale Holland, August 10, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Los Angeles and New York City top the list of U.S. cities with the most poor people laboring under heavy rent burdens, living in substandard housing, or both, according to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs study released Wednesday. More than half of Los Angeles’ 1 million very poor households, or 567,000, spent more than half their income on rent or resorted to undesirable housing in 2015, the study said…”
  • More Boston neighborhoods seeing affordable housing units, By Tim Logan, August 8, 2017, Boston Globe: “Boston’s building boom is bringing more affordable housing to some of its most affluent neighborhoods. A city program requiring developers to include low-cost apartments in or near their buildings has created more than 400 units of affordable housing in the Seaport and in South Boston since 2000, according to new figures released by the city this week. Nearly 430 more have come in the South End and several neighborhoods in downtown Boston…”

Racial Disparities in Subsidized Housing

  • The one area where racial disparities in housing have disappeared, By Tracy Jan, May 5, 2017, Washington Post: “Racial disparities in subsidized housing — which once saw poor black families overwhelmingly housed in large public developments — have essentially disappeared after decades of inequality, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University researchers. But low-income black families are still far more likely than poor whites to live in segregated, impoverished neighborhoods…”
  • Better housing as a path out of poverty: a tough test in Houston, By Simon Montlake, May 4, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “Iyoba Moshay had just started her shift when she got a text from Alvin, her 7th-grade son. His school was on lockdown after a shooting, he said. There was a body prone on the street outside, visible from his classroom window. Ms. Moshay gulped, and went back to her job tending bar downtown at the Houston Astros’ stadium. It was the second shooting that month near the school, which has an F grade from Texas regulators. For Moshay, a single mother, it was one more reason to wish she could move to a different part of town, far from the crime and poverty of her all-minority neighborhood…”

Housing Subsidies – Baltimore, MD

Housing program used to break up high-poverty areas in Baltimore to stop taking applicants, By Yvonne Wenger, January 12, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “The officials who run a court-ordered program that helps families move from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to areas with low crime and high-performing schools are planning to stop taking new applicants.  Hundreds of people sign up each month for the rental subsidies and counseling, which are offered as a condition of a landmark federal fair-housing lawsuit in Baltimore…”

Public Housing

The remarkable thing that happens to poor kids when you help their parents with rent, By Max Ehrenfreund, October 12, 2016, Washington Post: “Few programs for the poor are so widely reviled as public housing. For opponents on the right, housing projects are costly monuments to the folly of misguided idealism, stifling residents’ ambition by surrounding them with crime, decay and bureaucracy. For critics on the left, the projects — which were often segregated — became ugly icons of the racism of the white elite, an elite that was unwilling to implement more effective solutions to social problems…”

Participation in Public Assistance Programs

  • What it really means to rely on food stamps and welfare, By Emily Badger, May 29, 2015, Washington Post: “Public dependence isn’t a permanent condition, although we often talk about people in need of government aid as if they constitute some kind of fixed class — as if welfare recipients have always needed welfare, as if the families on food stamps today are exactly the same ones on food stamps a decade ago.  The reality is that Americans who need government aid, like Americans living below the poverty line, represent a shifting population…”
  • 1 in 5 Americans receive government assistance: food stamps, welfare, Medicaid details, By Rich Exner, May 28, 2015, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One in five Americans received monthly assistance from at least one of a variety of government programs throughout  2012, a report issued Thursday by the Census Bureau says. The report estimated that 52.2 million Americans — or 21.3 percent of the people in the United States — received assistance each month during 2012…”
  • Census: No. of Americans on assistance may be leveling off, By Jesse Holland (AP), May 28, 2015, Lexington Herald-Leader: “The once-increasing number of Americans getting some kind of public assistance from the U.S. government may be slowing down, according to new information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 52.2 million Americans — or 21.3 percent — participated in one or more of six poverty assistance programs on average each month in 2012, a new Census report released Thursday said. Although higher than the 20.9 percent found in 2011, government officials said the 2012 number is not a statistically significant change from the previous year’s.

Safety Net Programs and the Poor

Aid to needy often excludes the poorest in America, By Patricia Cohen, February 16, 2015, New York Times: “The safety net helped keep Camille Saunders from falling, but not Charles Constance. The difference? Ms. Saunders has a job, and Mr. Constance does not. And therein lies a tale of a profound shift in government support for low-income Americans at a time when stagnating wages and unstable schedules have kept many workers living near or below the poverty line. Assistance to needy Americans has grown at a gallop since the mid-1980s, giving a hand up to the disabled, the working poor and married couples with children. At the same time, though, government aid directed at the nation’s poorest individuals has shrunk…”

Section 8 Housing – Oregon

Locked out: Some landlords still turn away Section 8 tenants despite a new anti-discrimination law, By Bennett Hall, October 12, 2014, Corvallis Gazette-Times: “Elizabeth Prevish knew it could be tough to find a house to rent in Corvallis, but she had no idea just how hard it would be when she decided to relocate from Redmond in May. A single mom, Prevish has two sons, ages 3 and 13. The older boy struggles with a serious emotional disorder, and Prevish was thrilled when she got him placed in the Children’s Farm Home for inpatient treatment in January. After months of making the three-hour drive across the mountains to visit her son, she got approval to transfer her federal housing benefits from Deschutes County to the mid-valley — but ran into a brick wall when she tried to use them in Corvallis. So far, she says, half a dozen local landlords have refused to accept her Section 8 voucher — even though such discrimination is illegal under Oregon fair housing laws…”

Public Housing Eviction Policies

Public housing safety policy can hit whole family, By Rachelle Blidner (AP), September 15, 2014, ABC News: “Wanda Coleman sits in the New York City public housing apartment where she’s lived for 25 years, surrounded by empty rooms, bare walls and suitcases lined up by the front door. Any day now, she and her teen daughter will be evicted and have no other option than to go to a homeless shelter — partly because of her son’s criminal case…”

Public Housing – New York City

Budget cuts reshape New York’s public housing, By Mireya Navarro, September 11, 2014, New York Times: “The crushing news came less than a year after Diane Robinson and her 24-year-old son moved into an airy two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. The city, which helps pay her rent, wrote this summer to say she would have to downsize into a one-bedroom apartment or pay $240 more a month in rent. A public school aide, Ms. Robinson, 48, decided to stay in the apartment, in the Castle Hill neighborhood. But on an annual income of about $25,000, she is struggling, she said, and she does not know how long she can hang on. Moving to a one-bedroom apartment would mean that her son, a college student who works to help with food and utilities, would have to sleep in the living room. ‘My son works — he’s not entitled to have his own bedroom?’ she said. ‘Next thing they’re going to tell me is that I’m not entitled to a roof over my head…'”

Homelessness and Housing

  • Spokane County survey finds homelessness is outside the box, By Jody Lawrence-Turner, February 9, 2014, Spokane Spokesman-Review: “Bobby Moore has two kids and no job. The 34-year-old has relied on friends for a place to sleep, but he’s tired of couch-hopping and the imminent threat of living on the streets. Moore is homeless. Nicholas Limbaugh is autistic and struggles to find work because of his social awkwardness. The 20-year-old lives in a shelter that helps young men. Limbaugh is homeless. Jason Frear lives in a tiny trailer along a dirt road with two other men. The metal trailer is propped up on rocks and has no sewer or electricity hookups. Candles light the inside at night after someone stole the car battery that provided electricity. Frear is homeless. Only a fraction of Spokane County’s homeless population – fewer than 100 – match the stereotype of homelessness. Instead of single men living under bridges or in cardboard boxes, Spokane’s homeless are more reflective of everyone else: They are married couples with small children, single men and women, teenagers and single parents. And they live in a variety of shelters, including abandoned buildings, motel rooms, campgrounds, bus and train stations, and cars…”
  • Taking a new approach to end homelessness, By Lonnie Shekhtman, February 8, 2014, Boston Globe: “Roberitine Hunter, a single mother, ended up in a homeless shelter four years ago after a job-related injury forced her to stop working. She started getting back on her feet nearly two years later, when she received state housing subsidies that allowed her to get an apartment and child care for her young daughter. The next piece came when the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, which provided the housing subsidy, referred her to Jewish Vocational Service in Boston, which helped her earn a commercial driver’s license and land a part-time job driving a bus for company that transports people with disabilities…”

Evictions from Public Housing

Nonprofit points to benefits of preventing evictions, By Megan Woolhouse, January 23, 2014, Boston Globe: “The state could reduce homelessness and save millions in shelter and other costs by finding ways to prevent evictions from public and subsidized housing, according to a report by a nonprofit housing group. HomeStart Inc., in coordination with the Boston Housing Authority, used its report to track its efforts to intervene in evictions from public housing and to provide financial counseling to poor families. The report said Home Start has prevented more than 500 evictions from the authority’s properties since 2010, not only saving families from homelessness but saving taxpayers thousands of dollars…”

Section 8 Housing – Minnesota

Cuts in federal rent aid are squeezing Minnesota’s poor, By Chris Serres, January 16, 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul Start Tribune: “Brittannea Stevenson felt like she had ‘won the lottery’ on the day she qualified for federal rental assistance after a two-year wait. A cashier at a Mankato Wal-Mart, Stevenson imagined finally buying her first car and a new pair of work shoes. She spent 60 grueling days scouring the North Mankato area, by public transit and taxi, for an affordable apartment and a landlord willing to accept her rental voucher, which would cover two-thirds of her rent. But her search ended quite unexpectedly two weeks before Christmas, when her unused voucher was revoked because of budget cuts enacted by Congress last year…”

2013 US Homeless Count

  • New report: Big drops in veteran, chronic homelessness, By Marisol Bello, November 21, 2013, USA Today: “The number of homeless veterans and people who have been homeless for at least a year has dropped significantly, according to the latest survey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The number of homeless veterans fell 24% over the past six years, to 57,850, and the number of chronically homeless people decreased 25% to 92,590. Overall, there were 610,040 homeless people in the USA, a 9% drop from 2007, according to the annual count of the homeless. The survey counted people at a given point in time this past January. The number of homeless families, which shot up during the recession, also decreased 8% since 2007 to 222,200, the report shows.”
  • Number of homeless people declines in annual count, By Carol Morello, November 21, 2013, Washington Post: “The number of people who were counted as homeless on a single night this year declined by almost 4 percent, with the biggest drops among families, veterans and those who have been homeless the longest, according to figures released Thursday. Across the United States, 610,000 people were homeless on the night in late January when the annual count is conducted. Most were living in emergency shelters or some form of temporary housing designed to be transitional, but one third were living in unsheltered locations, such as the streets and in fields…”

Public Housing Program – Alaska

State overhauls public housing, imposes five-year limit, By Tegan Hanlon, November 2, 2013, Anchorage Daily News: “The disabled and elderly in public housing will receive notices on Monday about changes in their rent and utility costs as state officials implement a plan to encourage able-bodied renters to work and eventually move out of their subsidized apartments. With the waiting time for public housing extending for decades for some kinds of apartments, officials hope the new policies, in the works since 2008, will lead to a greater turnover of units…”

Low Income Housing – North Dakota

Housing challenges abound in North Dakota, By Jessica Holdman, August 25, 2013, Bismarck Tribune: “The groups that build, fund and manage housing in North Dakota all face different challenges, but most agree on one thing: There is not enough affordable housing in the state.“There’s still plenty of work to do,” said Max Wetz, director of public affairs for the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. The agency funds low- and middle-income housing projects statewide through taxpayer donations given in exchange for state income tax breaks. Wetz said a housing needs study conducted by the agency last year “shows a pretty dramatic increase in needs…”

Public Housing Waiting List – Milwaukee, WI

Waiting lists soar for public housing, rental assistance, By Georgia Pabst, August 10, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Jessica Johnson knew there would be a wait for Milwaukee public housing when she signed up in 2009, but she never dreamed it would take four years to make it to the top of the list. Now, she and her four children are preparing to move out of her father’s home and into a four-bedroom apartment at the Hillside Terrace public housing project on the city’s near north side…”

Public Housing Waiting List – New York City

227,000 names on list vie for rare vacancies in city’s public housing, By Mireya Navarro, July 23, 2013, New York Times: “Lottie Mitchell made her regular pilgrimage the other week, riding the subway for 45 minutes, then transferring to a bus to reach her destination: an office of the New York City Housing Authority. When her turn came, Ms. Mitchell, 57, using a cane, hobbled to the counter with the same request that she has made for the last four years. ‘I want to check the status on my housing,’ she said. As always, the clerk responded: ‘You’re on the waiting list.’ It is called the Tenant Selection and Assignment Plan, but to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers seeking a home, it is ‘the list.’ Prosperous city residents may consider public housing to be a place of last resort. The waiting list indicates otherwise…”

Section 8 Housing Subsidies

Federal rent subsidies vanish for many low-income Minnesotans, By Randy Furst, April 12, 2013, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Corinne Lewis, who is disabled and lives in a rental unit in need of repairs, was on a waiting list for six years to get a rental subsidy under a federal housing program. In February, the Woodbury woman was elated to learn that she, her disabled daughter and a granddaughter finally would receive the subsidy under the Section 8 program. She began hunting for an apartment. Then, last month, Lewis got a second letter from the Metropolitan Council’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The agency told her the subsidy was on hold because of a reduction in federal funding due to sequestration — the automatic budget cuts that went into effect starting last month…”

Section 8 Housing – Oregon

Oregon bill would end Section 8 discrimination, By Brad Schmidt, February 5, 2013, The Oregonian: “Discriminating against poor Oregonians because they receive federal Section 8 rent assistance would be forbidden under legislation proposed by new House Speaker Tina Kotek. Housing advocates hope Kotek’s bill gives Section 8 voucher-holders options outside the high-poverty neighborhoods many call home. And they’re optimistic that Kotek’s new influence and collaboration with landlords will overcome the real estate interests that defeated previous proposals. Kotek’s bill would not force landlords to accept voucher-holders. But it would prohibit them from having blanket ‘No Section 8’ policies or from turning away renters only because they have a voucher…”

Low-income Housing – Wyoming, North Dakota

  • Low-income, elderly residents decry federal housing cuts, By Josh Mitchell, June 3, 2012, Wyoming Tribune Eagle: “Lillian Allen, a resident of government housing in Cheyenne, is upset about federal funding cuts that could hurt her livelihood. ‘I think it’s wrong,’ the 86-year-old Cheyenne resident said. ‘I think we should help our people here in America.’ Funding to keep the Cheyenne Housing Authority’s 266 local units in good shape has been slashed by the federal government. Those units help low-income, elderly and disabled residents…”
  • Low-income families facing difficulty finding housing, By Jessica Holdman, June 2, 2012, Bismarck Tribune: “With a 1 percent rental vacancy rate in Bismarck-Mandan, affordable housing is hard for everyone to find, but that’s especially true for those on low and fixed incomes. ‘It (demand) is driving the cost of housing up such that there’s less and less affordable housing today,’ said Mike Anderson, executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. Even with housing assistance, North Dakota’s low-income residents can’t afford rent. ‘You can have a voucher and still not find place to live,’ Anderson said. North Dakota housing vouchers offer subsidies based on income. Those in the program contribute up to 30 percent of their personal income to rent and the state covers the rest. Renters have 60 days to find an apartment that fits their voucher. If they can’t find a place in that time, they can apply for a 60-day extension…”