Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Arizona

Locked out: Section 8 housing vouchers fail to open doors for low-income renters, By Alden Woods, December 14, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Marcella Landson set aside her Section 8 voucher and stared at the shaded map of Tempe, searching for the right neighborhood. They all seemed the same. She had come to find a home, but couldn’t even figure out where to look.  At the head of a wide conference table in the city library, Tempe Housing Services supervisor Theresa James held up her own copy of the map. About half of the city was shaded in, marking what was described as prosperity and potential. The rest was left empty, filled only by high poverty and unemployment rates. In those areas, schools performed worse. Houses and apartments sagged with age. Rents were low, but opportunities were few…”

Legal Counsel for Eviction

How free legal help can prevent evictions, By Teresa Wiltz, October 27, 2017, Stateline: “In much of the country, more and more renters are devoting larger and larger portions of their income to rent. For low-income families, this can push them further into poverty and put them at risk for being evicted — and becoming homeless. Evictions destabilize families, forcing them into poorer neighborhoods with higher crime rates. And evictions cost cities money: After a family is evicted, a city can end up losing thousands of dollars in property taxes and unpaid utility bills, and may have to bear increased costs from homeless shelters and hospitals…”

Affordable Housing

America’s affordable-housing stock dropped by 60 percent from 2010 to 2016, By Tracy Jan, October 23, 2017, Washington Post: “The number of apartments deemed affordable for very low-income families across the United States fell by more than 60 percent between 2010 and 2016, according to a new report by Freddie Mac.  The report by the government-backed mortgage financier is the first to compare rent increases in specific units over time. It examined loans that the corporation had financed twice between 2010 and 2016, allowing a comparison of the exact same rental units and how their affordability changed…”

The Columbian Series on Eviction – Clark Co, WA

  • Getting evicted: A 1-2 punch, By Patty Hastings, October 22, 2017, The Columbian: “Charmaine Crossley and Kate Dunphy talk in hushed voices on the top floor of the Clark County Courthouse, plotting what to say to keep Crossley and her family from being evicted. Dunphy, the deputy director of the Tenants Union of Washington State, advises Crossley on how best to defend herself if the judge denies her request for more time…”
  • A day in eviction court can be hard to navigate, By Patty Hastings, October 22, 2017, The Columbian: “A man in the third row of benches is dozing, his soft snores occasionally jolting him awake. Fluorescent lights buzz overhead. It seems dull, but lives change in this courtroom, where every Friday a Clark County Superior Court judge hears the unlawful-detainer docket. The vast majority of renters facing unlawful-detainer lawsuits, or evictions, lose their cases. They are ordered to pay back rent, late fees and the landlord’s attorney costs. Once the order is recorded and they vacate, future landlords will be less willing to rent to them…”
  • Evictions: Tools are available to help, but organizations struggle to keep up, By Patty Hastings, October 23, 2017, The Columbian: “More than 1,100 eviction notices were filed in Clark County last year, and the same number are expected this year. Several agencies around Clark County operate rental-assistance programs that, in many cases, prevent evictions from happening. However, the programs are costly and can’t help everyone…”
  • Advocates, landlords at odds over some tenant protections, By Patty Hastings, October 23, 2017, The Columbian: “A law in Washington that became effective in June 2016 allows tenants to seek an order of limited dissemination, which basically stops screening agencies from showing a prior eviction or using that past to calculate a rental score…”

Affordable Housing – Milwaukee, WI

Low-income households in Milwaukee squeezed by rents, By Kevin Crowe and Ashley Luthern, September 22, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Cheryl Williams-Adams moved to Milwaukee with her teenage daughter four years ago, she landed on her feet. She worked as a substance abuse counselor for two organizations, and her monthly income was enough to cover the rent for their one-bedroom apartment, as well as to have some savings. ‘I was trying to build up enough money to get a house,’ Williams-Adams said.  Like many people, she was one emergency away from financial hardship.  In 2015, Williams-Adams, 63, had a heart attack. She hasn’t been able to work since.  Now, the mix of short-term benefits and Social Security payments she receives add up to about $1,000 per month. Her rent is $590. In the City of Milwaukee, 50% of all renters spent more than 30% of their monthly income on housing in 2016, compared to 46% of renters nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau…”

Legal Representation in Evictions

Denver landlords tried to evict nearly 8,000 households last year. The success rate largely depended on one factor: attorneys., By Jennifer Brown, September 13, 2017, Denver Post: “Denver landlords tried to evict nearly 8,000 households last year. Their success depended largely on one factor: whether their tenants hired an attorney. And they almost never did. In Denver County eviction court, landlords have an attorney about 90 percent of the time. Tenants, on the other hand, are represented by counsel about 1 percent of the time, according to new research by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, which reviewed 93,000 eviction filings from 2001 through last year…”

Affordable Housing – Miami, FL

South Florida ranked as the hardest place in nation for low-income renters to find affordable housing, By Linda Robertson, August 16, 2017, Miami Herald: “As the nationwide housing crisis becomes more dire for those who are the most vulnerable, South Florida has been ranked as the metro area with the highest percentage of low-income renters who can’t find affordable housing…”

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…”

Housing and Eviction

  • ‘Here for the eviction’: More renters forced from homes as affordable-housing crisis deepens, By Alden Woods, July 16, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Ken Sumner stepped through the debris of another unexpected move. He weaved around the two men backing a truck through their friend’s barren yard, past a speaker system and stacks of framed photographs, moving toward the front door for his fifth eviction of the day. The evicted man waited alone…”
  • Councilman proposes legal aid for tenants in Baltimore facing evictions, By Doug Donovan, July 17, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “A Baltimore city councilman introduced legislation Monday aimed at establishing a fund that would help low-income tenants facing eviction and other housing problems to hire attorneys, an effort that cities across the nation are exploring or have implemented…”

Affordable Housing – Buffalo, NY

The other side of Buffalo’s rental boom? Not enough low-income apartments, By Susan Schulman, June 19, 2017, Buffalo News: “When a nonprofit housing agency recently built a low-income apartment complex on Jefferson Avenue, the 30 apartments were rented – sight unseen – before the building was completed. ‘They were rented up before I could show an apartment, before there was a certificate of occupancy,’ said Michael Riegel, president of Belmont Shelter, the city’s premier low-income housing assistance agency. That was the first time in his 30 years in the nonprofit housing business that he’s experienced such a demand, Riegel said…”

Eviction in Southern California

Eviction decline is no solace for thousands of renters losing their homes, By Jeff Collins, May 28, 2017, Orange County Register: “Joann Nieves spent the first week after her eviction sleeping in her Chevy pickup with her three young sons. ‘It was kind of uncomfortable,’ said Jacob, 11, her oldest. To her youngest, 6-year-old Anthony, ‘it was scary.’ Things have improved since then. Nieves, 36, now sleeps on an air mattress on the living room floor of her boyfriend’s mom’s house in Santa Ana, while her sons share a bed in one of the bedrooms…”

Affordable Housing

Here’s how much you would need to afford rent in your state, By Tracy Jan, June 8, 2017, Washington Post: “There is nowhere in this country where someone working a full-time minimum wage job could afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Thursday documenting the gap between wages and the cost of rental housing. Downsizing to a one-bedroom will only get you so far on minimum wage. Such housing is affordable in only 12 counties located in Arizona, Oregon and Washington states, according to the report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition…”

Eviction – Baltimore, MD

  • Dismissed: Low-income renters in Baltimore become migrants in their own city, By Doug Donovan and Jean Marbella, May 6, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “When the furnace in their West Baltimore rowhouse broke last winter, Denise and Marvin Jones did what they could to keep their family warm — and together. They filed a complaint against their landlord. They boiled pots of water and ran space heaters. They sent their four children to bed bundled in coats, hats and gloves. ‘I didn’t want to separate them,’ Denise said, crying. But ‘it was so cold.’ The family split up in January, fanning out to the heated homes of different relatives across the city even as they continued to pay the $950 monthly rent at their own cold home. They sometimes checked in to motels just to spend a few nights together. But as temperatures rose with the coming of spring, so did their spirits. After five months, their complaint was advancing in Baltimore District Court. And Marvin had located a new home…”
  • Evictions perpetuate Baltimore’s cycle of poverty, Editorial, May 8, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “Evictions are devastating for the families who go through them. The process is all-consuming. Low-income tenants spend hours going to court to plead their cases or begging family, friends and social service agencies for help. They lose time at work, and an already precarious financial situation becomes worse. They live in anxiety about every knock on the door, wondering whether it might be a property agent or sheriff’s deputies ready to dump all their belongings onto the street. And if the worst comes, they may find themselves suddenly homeless, struggling to keep the family together, desperate to provide any sense of normalcy for their children as they are torn away from neighborhoods and schools…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – California

Despite Section 8, affordable housing’s doors still slamming shut, By David Downey, March 31, 2017, Press-Enterprise: “After reopening last summer following a 13-year absence, Long Beach’s Section 8 housing program is finding plenty of takers. But more than 1,000 voucher holders can’t find a place to live, a report says. And 17,000 others are on a waiting list, said Alison Whyte King, Long Beach Housing Authority bureau manager…”

Housing and Eviction – Milwaukee, WI

  • Tenants caught in legal tangle get evicted, By Cary Spivak, February 24, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Briana Shipp is caught in a legal whirlpool that won’t stop swirling. Shipp, a 29-year-old single mother, says in the past year she lost her home and possessions when she was evicted on the orders of Elijah Mohammad Rashaed, long one of Milwaukee’s most notorious central-city landlords. Her possessions, she said, were either thrown out or stolen when she was locked out of her house on N. 41st St.  The August eviction — which Shipp argues was illegal — stems from a bedazzling set of circumstances that left Shipp and a group of other Rashaed tenants unsure of whom to pay their rent. As a result, several ended up in eviction court, which has hampered their ability to find new places because many landlords won’t rent to people with evictions on their record…”
  • No title? No worry. LLC that no longer owns house files to evict Milwaukee family, By Cary Spivak, March 3, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The eviction suit filed against Jesse White last month stands out from the nearly 900 other evictions filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last month. The difference: Kaja Holdings 2 LLC  — the company seeking to throw the 79-year-old man and his two teenage sons out — does not own the house on N. 26th St. where the family lives. The company lost title to the property on Oct. 31 in a tax foreclosure…”
  • Watchdog Report: Landlord Games, series homepage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With little consequence in the courts, Milwaukee landlords have learned how to play the system, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill…”

Housing Conditions and Health

  • Philly study finds house calls could help asthma patients living in poverty, By Stacey Burling, January 3, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Tyra Bryant-Stephens, a doctor who is medical director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, thinks doctors and researchers need to think more about an often unseen factor in patients’ asthma: their housing.  When doctors see poor patients in clinics, she said, they may not have time to ask about their living conditions.  Even if they did, patients might be too embarrassed to tell them…”
  • Seller-financed deals are putting poor people in lead-tainted homes, By Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein, December 26, 2016, New York Times: “A year after Tiffany Bennett moved into a two-story red brick house at 524 Loudon Avenue here, she received alarming news.  Two children, both younger than 6, for whom Ms. Bennett was guardian, were found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. Lead paint throughout the nearly 100-year-old home had poisoned them.  Who was responsible for the dangerous conditions in the home?  Baltimore health officials say it was an out-of-state investment company that entered into a rent-to-own lease with the unemployed Ms. Bennett to take the home in 2014 ‘as is’ — chipping, peeling lead paint and all.  Ms. Bennett, 46, and the children moved out, but they should never have been in the house at all. City officials had declared the house ‘unfit for human habitation’ in 2013…”

Fuel Poverty – England

More than 2.3m families living in fuel poverty in England, By Jessica Elgot, December 30, 2016, The Guardian: “More than 2.3 million families are living in fuel poverty in England – the equivalent of 10% of households, according to government statistics. Almost 60,000 households in Birmingham alone cannot afford to heat their homes. The figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show the West Midlands city is worst affected, with Leeds, Cornwall, Manchester and Liverpool also in the top five local authorities where households face ‘eat or heat’ choices in winter…”

Affordable Housing – Minneapolis, MN

As Minneapolis gentrifies, some of the last neighborhoods for the poor are now getting squeezed, By Adam Belz, November 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A light snow fell outside a brown apartment building on Pleasant Avenue, where tenants gathered to protest something that’s become inevitable in Minneapolis: rising rent.  The company that manages seven buildings just south of Lake Street told residents in a letter that their rent will rise by as much as $125 per month, to $775.  For many of the families there, that will be too much, and nearby options are limited. Only a handful of apartments in the area rent for less than $900 per month…”

Ex-Felons and Housing

‘Invisible punishment’ hits ex-felons for life; DOJ, HUD fight blanket rental bias, By Joe Davidson, October 27, 2016, Washington Post: “There’s been a lot of bipartisan talk lately about criminal justice reform. But action is slow.  Too slow for Pedro Collazo, dangling in a web of collateral consequences.  He did 12 years in New York’s Sing Sing prison on manslaughter charges after a beef went bad at a bar where he was a bouncer. He was 22. He has been home nine months and has a good job that allows him to care for his 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter.  But “home” is an elusive concept for Collazo, who sleeps on a relative’s couch…”

Housing and Health

Zika could hit people in poverty hardest, By Liz Szabo, June 30, 2016, USA Today: “There’s no mystery about how the mosquitoes got into Shawanda Holmes’ former home. They flew through a gaping hole in the wall. One of the wooden boards on the side of the house is partly missing, covered only by a loose, blue plastic tarp that flows down the outside wall and crumples in a heap on the grass. Rainwater pools in its folds, providing an ideal site for mosquitoes to breed. Trash fills the backyard. Holmes’ home had no air conditioning, and she was afraid to plug in a fan, for fear that water had leaked into the electrical outlet. Mosquitoes repeatedly bit her children, ages 4, 6 and 14. ‘The mosquitoes were tearing us up, no matter what I did,’ said Holmes, 32, who lives in New Orleans’ Center City neighborhood.  If Zika spreads in the United States, Americans who live in substandard housing and neglected neighborhoods could face the greatest danger, particularly along the Gulf Coast – where steamy summers, high poverty rates and a dizzying array of mosquitoes could allow the virus to take hold, said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine…”