Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Pittsburgh, PA

For those with Section 8 vouchers, finding suitable housing difficult, By Kate Giammarise, June 20, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “It can take years to get a Section 8 voucher in Pittsburgh. But it takes just four months to lose it. Pittsburgh’s voucher waiting list has about 5,000 families on it, but once a family gets one, the clock starts ticking. The recipient must find a qualified residence within 120 days and, because of a shortage of units and willing landlords, that’s often very difficult. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as Section 8, is the largest federal program for assisting low-income people to find affordable housing in the private rental market…”

Affordable Housing

Renting a Chicago apartment becoming less affordable, study says, By Gail MarksJarvis, May 25, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “The average renter in the Chicago area does not earn enough to comfortably afford a modest apartment, a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported Wednesday.  With rents climbing sharply since the housing bust, individuals — and especially families — are having to stretch further on rent. Consequently, higher housing costs are forcing people to skimp on other necessities such as food, child care and transportation, said Andrew Aurand, vice president of research for the coalition…”

Housing Discrimination

Denying housing over criminal record may be discrimination, feds say, By Camila Domonoske, April 4, 2016, National Public Radio: “The Department of Housing and Urban Development is making it easier for people with criminal records to find housing.  In new guidance, released Monday, HUD tells landlords and home sellers that turning down tenants or buyers based on their criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act. People with criminal records aren’t a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, and the guidance from HUD’s general counsel says that in some cases, turning down an individual tenant because of his or her record can be legally justified.  But blanket policies of refusing to rent to anybody with a criminal record are de facto discrimination, the department says — because of the systemic disparities of the American criminal justice system…”

Evictions and Homelessness – New York City

NYC to target evictions in bid to curb homelessness, By Josh Dawsey, September 28, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “As Mayor Bill de Blasio struggles to control rising homelessness in New York, the city plans to hire more lawyers to help financially stressed residents avoid eviction—especially in neighborhoods that are quickly gentrifying. By mid-2017, the city will be spending $60 million annually—up from about $34 million now—on an expanded legal team to address the flow of homeless into an already overburdened shelter system and the number of people living on the streets. The city has found that about 32% of the families in its shelters were evicted from their homes…”

Affordable Housing – New Orleans, LA

Where will working poor live in future New Orleans, if gentrification continues?, By Robert McClendon, July 30, 2015, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Twenty-year-old Jonquille Floyd is on the hunt for an apartment. Like many New Orleanians without much of a formal education, he works in the hospitality industry, washing dishes at a touristy French Quarter restaurant. It’s minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, plus some lagniappe from the wait staff who share tips with him for fetching water and the like. It’s not his long-term plan. He’s going to school in the fall to study welding. In the meantime, he has to find a place to live. At his pay, he thinks he can afford something in the realm of $650, with some help from Covenant House, the shelter where he lives now…”

Affordable Housing

Report: Rental housing supply lags behind demand, By Talia Richman, June 20, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “For families that earn less than 30 percent of the median area income, buying a house is often out of the question. And for these low-income households, finding a place to rent can also be a struggle, the Urban Institute has reported.  Not a single county in the nation offered enough affordable housing to keep up with its extremely low-income renters, the organization said. In the Baltimore region, some counties have fewer available units than the national average of 28 units available for every 100 renter households…”

Low-Wage Workers and Affordable Housing – New York City

For New York City’s working poor, new help in getting out of homeless shelters, By Corinne Ramey, May 18, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “Last summer, a pipe burst in the Bronx apartment where Ayra Garcia lived with her 15-year-old niece. The water damage was so bad that they couldn’t live there anymore. But despite the $31,243 a year that Ms. Garcia then made as a teacher, she didn’t have the savings to pay the three months of rent and a security deposit on a new apartment. With no other options, she and her niece spent five months in homeless shelters…”

Affordable Housing

More Americans spending at least half their pay on housing, May 1, 2015, Chicago Tribune: “The surging cost of rental housing has squeezed a rising proportion of U.S. families since the Great Recession struck in 2007.  For more than one in four renters, housing and utilities consume at least half their family income, according to an analysis of Census data by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps finance affordable housing. The number of such households has jumped 26 percent to 11.25 million since 2007, a sign that the 6½-year-old recovery from the recession has given scant relief to much of the country…”

Section 8 Housing – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis passes bills to reduce Section 8 concentration in poor neighborhoods, By Walker Moskop, February 26, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The Section 8 housing voucher program is designed to avoid the challenges of concentrated poverty typically associated with traditional public housing. Tenants receive rent subsidy vouchers from a local housing authority and can redeem them anywhere landlords accept them, so long as properties meet certain standards.  In the end, though, most voucher recipients in St. Louis still end up clustered in lower-income communities.  In an attempt to alleviate that concentration, St. Louis passed two measures last week aimed at making it easier for landlords to participate in the program while also banning the practice of rejecting tenants because they have vouchers…”

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 – New York City

Public housing in New York reaches a fiscal crisis, By Mireya Navarro, August 11, 2014, New York Times: “Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of New York City public housing. Advocates for homeless people are demanding more apartments for families living in shelters. School officials want space in public housing for new prekindergarten classes. Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to use open land in the projects for new affordable housing. And just over a quarter of a million households sit on the waiting list for an apartment in one of the New York City Housing Authority’s 334 developments. But the demands on Nycha, as the housing authority is known, clash with a grave financial reality. After years of shrinking government investment in public housing, the agency has a $77 million budget deficit this year and unfunded capital needs totaling $18 billion, its officials say…”

Affordable Housing

Obama administration expands affordable housing plan, By Elvina Nawaguna, June 26, 2014, Reuters: “The Obama administration said on Thursday it would tap Treasury funds to bolster the construction of affordable rental housing and extend the life of a program aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. The announcement by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Making Home Affordable program, an Obama administration initiative launched at the height of the economic crisis in 2009 to revitalize the housing sector and curb runaway foreclosures. He said the program would be extended through December 2016. ‘We need to continue to be there for homeowners who are facing foreclosure, those who are struggling with increasing interest rates on their modified mortgages, and those whose homes are caught underwater. . .”

Affordable Housing – Los Angeles

Los Angeles needs half a million more affordable housing units, By Karen Weise, May 29, 2014, Businessweek: “California’s housing market has long been among the most expensive in the country, and the economic downturn has only made the situation worse. That’s one of the findings in a new report (pdf) from the California Housing Partnership Corporation, a nonprofit group set up by the state, that determined that Los Angeles County needs at least 490,340 more affordable homes to ease the housing burden on the state’s poorest residents. The county-level results echo the group’s February report (pdf) that found Californians need almost 1 million additional affordable housing units statewide. The CHPC’s reports are, frankly, devastating. The problem they lay out is that the financial crisis turned owners into renters . . .”

Affordable Housing

  • How many hours must minimum-wage earners work to afford rent?, By Jolie Lee, March 24, 2014, USA Today: “Minimum-wage employees must work on average 2.6 full-time jobs to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment in the USA without paying more than 30% of their income, according to a report released Monday from the National Low Income Housing Coalition based on federal data. Perhaps more surprising is that the inability to afford rent is not limited to big cities with high housing costs…”
  • More Americans are renting: why the cost is so high, By Mark Trumbull, March 24, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “For most Americans, there seem to be two types of rental housing in the US these days: pricey and unaffordable. That’s a glib way of summarizing a troubling trend. Despite a sharp plunge in home prices and the conversion of many properties from ‘owned’ to ‘rented,’ the typical family looking to rent has to pay more than 30 percent of its income for a typical apartment, according to an annual survey released Monday. For the 1 in 4 renters who have very low incomes, moreover, it’s common to spend more than half their earnings on rent…”
  • California second least affordable state for renters, study says, By Andrew Khouri, March 25, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “California renters must earn more than triple the minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment, underscoring a housing shortage throughout the state, a new report said. A worker earning the minimum wage — $8 per hour in California — would have to toil away for 130 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said Monday. Across the nation, minimum wage workers can’t afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, the group said. The coalition’s president, Sheila Crowley, said raising the federal minimum wage would ease the burden…”

Affordable Housing and Homelessness

  • Lack of affordable housing fuels Connecticut homelessness, By Brian Charles, December 10, 2013,  New Haven Register: “Connecticut’s battle to bring down the number of homeless people living in shelters or on the streets has been hampered by a dearth of affordable housing, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities. At a time when the nation’s homeless population is in steady decline, the number of homeless people in Connecticut has increased. During the last three years, the state’s homeless population has risen from 4,316 to 4,448, according to data collected in January and released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last month…”
  • With rental demand soaring, poor are feeling squeezed, By Annie Lowrey, December 9, 2013, New York Times: “Violeta Torres cannot afford her apartment. Ms. Torres, a 54-year-old nanny, pays $828 a month for a rundown one-bedroom that she keeps spotlessly clean, making the rent only by letting an acquaintance sleep on a mattress in the living room for about $400 a month. But her one-bedroom happens to be in the booming Columbia Heights area here, where such an apartment, once renovated, would easily command twice the price…”
  • Alaska’s thin line between camping and homelessness, By Kirk Johnson, December 7, 2013, New York Times: “People come to Kenai Peninsula for the natural beauty or for an Alaskan escape from the routines that shape life in fussier places. There are good oil industry jobs, and a Russian patina hangs over the landscape in the names of the small towns and a few orthodox churches that keep the flame alive. When the salmon are running on the Kenai River, you can pull them in until your arms are sore, people here are fond of saying. But those bounties of nature, which have drawn settlers and fortune seekers since the days of Captain Cook, also mask a hard reality. When someone’s life goes awry, through a misstep or a spousal betrayal, a job loss or an eviction, or just a stretch of bad luck, there is not much of a safety net here…”

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…”