The latest battle of the Rent Wars has ended in Albany, and the kindest word that I could find to describe it from the advocates of stronger rent laws is “disappointing.” So, while New York State celebrates the passage of…
The legislative frenzy that led up to the passage of New York State’s marriage equality bill eclipsed a deal to extend the state’s rent regulations. Some tenant advocates are lauding the deal, but is it enough? Did the new rent…
In March, as part of a series looking at the impact of state and local budget cuts on communities across the country, New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt examined the potentially-devastating effect of an austere budgetary climate on the nation’s 75,000…
The gap between income and rent continues to widen, and “high unemployment, falling wages, and low rental vacancy rates driven by a post-recession return to renting have combined to put housing stability beyond the grasp of low income households across the country,” according to a new report issue by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
NLIHC released Out of Reach 2011 yesterday as part of its Out of Reach reports, an annual series launched in 1999 that calculates the amount a person working full-time must earn to afford the Fair Market Rent (FMR) on a two-bedroom unit, otherwise known as the Housing Wage.
This year, while foreclosure crisis-related attention has often focused on the unemployed, Out of Reach places an emphasis on the effect of the housing crisis on low-income people. According to the report, a household must earn $38,400/year to afford the national two-bedroom FMR of $960/month. Widening the availability of affordable units and creating overall housing stability for low-income Americans, “won’t be accomplished without dramatic increase in housing stock that’s affordable for people in those income groups,” said NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley, yesterday on a press call that also included Raphael Bostic, HUD assistant secretary for Policy Development & Research.
Bostic pointed to HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs 2009, released earlier this year, that shows that the 20 percent increase in worst-case housing over the last two years represents the largest two-year increase in history. “Worst case housing” is defined as “as very low-income renters with incomes below 50 percent of the Area Median
Income who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than one-half of their income for rent or lived in severely inadequate conditions, or who faced both of these challenges.”
NLIHC’s Out of Reach reports that the estimated average wage for renters in the United States is $13.52 — 92 cents down from the 2010 average of $14.44, and $1.17 down from the 2009 average. The report goes on to note that at the federal minimum wage of $7.25, a household would have to work 102 hours each week to afford the nation’s average FMR for a two-bedroom home.
NLIHC offers up data for every state, metropolitan area, and county in the country. For example, in New Jersey, with a “housing wage” of $24.54, an average renter earning $15.82 per hour would have to earn $8.72 more per hour to afford a modest unit or work 62 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. According to NLIHC data, roughly 61 percent of New Jersey renters do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit at FMR.
New Jersey has the fourth-highest FMR in the nation, behind Hawaii, California, and Maryland.
Out of Reach 2011 provides highly useful material for communities, local governments, and organizations. It also provides data that can be used to place pressure on state and local legislators to encourage more equitable wages and to promote the availability of safe, decent, affordable housing that is priced in line with what renters earn.
For more information and for data in other parts of the country, visit http://www.nlihc.org/oor/oor2011/ more
April, as you might have heard is Fair Housing Month, commemorating April 1968 when President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law just days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The historic act, Johnson, said, represented a new era where fair housing would become “a part of the American way of life.”
Of course, the work continues, and the vision expands. As HUD Assistant Secretary John Trasvina noted in a recent blog post, “By itself, the Fair Housing Act does not end barriers to living free from discrimination. That cause depends upon vigorous civil rights law enforcement, sustained public education, working with housing providers and the real estate industry, and ensuring that HUD’s own house is in order.”
More, in our interview with Trasvina, he pointed to the fact that HUD receives 10,000 discrimination complaints each year. And it’s not just communities of color, as the Fair Housing Act was born out of the Civil Rights movement. In the 21st century, we see more and more discrimination in other communities: disabled, LGBT, single parents, and more.
One of the great things about the Fair Housing Act is that it is a mirror image of some of the greatest movements in our nation’s history. The women’s movement of the 1960s, for example, eventually led to the inclusion of gender discrimination in the Fair Housing Act in 1974. In 1988, the act recognized the history of discrimination in housing against families with children and people with disabilities.
So as we are now in the 21st century, beyond our focus on the existing statute, we are also looking at the conditions of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) people, and looking at source-of-income discrimination. We have to be a civil rights office that is relevant to the 21st century. This means addressing the needs of newcomers and new families without forgetting the core issues of discrimination that formed the target of the ‘68 Act.
Trasvina acknowledged that success is difficult to document, but that now more than ever, there’s still work to be done. more
As part of a research project funded by the Open Society Institute, one of the sessions Monday at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual policy conference was a “guided discussion on housing preservation, investment, and mobility,” titled “Should we…
This chart from Visualizing Economics calls into question the bedrock assertion that housing is a good investment, showing that its real value doesn’t actually rise. The accompanying post says basically that all the asset building that people get out of…
Today, the Center for Housing Policy released Housing Landscape 2011: An Annual Look at the Housing Affordability Challenges of America’s Working Households. The report finds that despite falling home values — the number of working households spending more than half of their income on housing costs — rose to 10.5 million, an increase of 600,000 from 2008 to 2009.
Roughly one in four working households had a severe housing cost burden in 2009, and the rate increased significantly in 25 states.
The report also helps identify why housing affordability has worsened in recent years. Incomes for working households fell by 4 to 5 percent between 2008 and 2009, due in part to under-employment that has prevented even those with jobs to work as many hours as they have in the past. As incomes have fallen, housing costs for working renters actually increased by 2 percent. And even though housing costs fell slightly for the typical working homeowner, household incomes retreated further still.
Far from solving the affordable housing problem, the current economic crisis has only exacerbated it because monthly housing costs for working households have risen relative to monthly incomes. In these tough economic times, governments that cut funding for affordable housing programs in an attempt to balance their budgets will only make it increasingly harder for their residents to balance their own. more
The HUD/Treasury report to Congress, Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market, has sparked a debate about who should own a home (and all the equity — both financial and social involved in limiting homeownership availability) and how explicit or implicit the government’s role in the housing market should be.
Nevertheless, the existing rules for homeownership will very likely change in the longterm as pointed out in this piece in the Los Angeles Times:
Take a snapshot of today’s mortgage market conditions and frame it. It’s highly likely you’ll never see anything like these favorable combinations of rates and terms again. That’s the inescapable conclusion emerging from the Obama administration’s white paper on possible remedies for the two ailing giants of housing finance — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — along with events underway in the national economy.
Source: Los Angeles Times more
Here’s an interested graphic from Calculated Risk that reflects the recently released Case-Schiller Home Price Index. The chart indicates that those areas with more central, walkable downtowns have held up better in terms of property value loss than others, or,…
Richard Florida, chronicler of societal trends and Twitter addict (follow him at your peril), believes that there is a strong case to be made that America should shift somewhat away from homeownership and toward more rentals, perhaps achieving a 50-50 balance between the two.
In the video below, he points out that homeownership has been massively subsidized, to the extent that we now have an eight-year surplus of housing on the market for sale to owner-occupants. He believes that we need to ‘reinvent rental’ into a more robust and flexible system.
As I pointed out at my blog, I’m not entirely sure I agree with the premise, by the way. True, homeownership is subsidized, but in my experience owner-occupiers are frequently willing to invest in a property beyond what landlords do, to the benefit of neighborhood and place. The subsidy may, in fact, be in the public interest. Moreover, while many cite the mortgage interest deduction as a cause of sprawl, that deduction is just as available to those who buy in cities and walkable suburbs. (It is also worth pointing out that those who invest in rental properties have the benefit of a range of business deductions and subsidies not available to ordinary homeowners.)
But RF’s point of view is interesting nonetheless. Check it out:
Everybody hates public housing, except the low-income people who live there and the people on the long waiting lists to get in. Now, after years of neglect, the Obama Administration wants to save public housing for future generations. It has…
The gap between income and rent continues to widen, and despite a robust level of rental housing, there remains a dearth of housing that can be considered affordable, according to new data released yesterday by a prominent national housing advocacy…
On this Veterans Day, when we remember those who have served, it is troubling to note that, although veterans make up around 9 percent of our population, they comprise 23 percent of our homeless population and fully a third of…
With the rental population growing and the stock of affordable housing rentals in decline, “due to the demolition of older apartment buildings, the abandonment of foreclosed rental properties, and the conversion of rental units to sales condominiums,” John Kromer of the Fels Institute of Government identifies an anything-but-nascent problem in the housing field.
In Time for HUD to Rethink Rental, Kromer cites the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s 2009 report, Out of Reach 2009: Persistent Problems, New Challenges for Renters, that points to the rising costs of affordable, two-bedroom apartments and a two-decade decline in HUD rental units, and an institutional disconnect between HUD, offices within HUD, and funding for municipalities and housing authorities, in making his case for a pretty thoughtful intervention:
On a pilot-program basis, HUD should select a number of city governments that, each with the consent of their respective public housing authorities, would be eligible to receive in block-grant form the annual operating and capital funding that would ordinarily be awarded directly to the housing authority by HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing.
Although, under this proposal, a city’s municipal government would be the recipient of all of the consolidated block grant funding, the implementing agency for these activities could be a government agency, a housing or redevelopment authority, or both.
Successful execution could result in nationwide implementation, Kromer writes. Read his piece here. more
Given the pain so many states such as California and Florida are suffering because they have a glut of new, empty houses, and given that Massachusetts has weathered the recession better than a lot of those states, I was somewhat…
Individual behavior plays a significant role in perpetuating residential racial and ethnic segregation. Illegal discrimination, including racial steering, and housing affordability both play a role, but neither can fully explain the severe segregation that plagues so many of America’s metropolitan…
HUD Secy. Shaun Donovan announced today at the National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2009 conference that his department has requested $150 million for the Sustainable Communities Initiative to create a “geography of opportunity” for residents. The term, “geography of opportunity,” echoes…
There is much that is praiseworthy about the President Obama’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. It is an intelligent plan that recognizes the seriousness of the housing crisis and the need to restore confidence in housing markets.
First, the plan distinguishes between different types of home mortgage borrowers who find themselves in distress (either due to unaffordable monthly payments or because they are “under water”). The plan lays out the following categories of borrowers who will NOT be assisted: speculators, and those who bought homes that are unsuitable for their economic circumstances ( folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford )
The President did a service to homeowners by plainly stating: This plan will not save every home.
However, a serious gap in the proposed plan is a lack of a plan to help homeowners in “unsuitable” housing to transition to a more suitable/affordable housing situation either as homeowners or renters. more
For the first 38 minutes, it almost sounded like the Senators pitied him. The Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs spent nearly 40 minutes of the two-hour confirmation hearing warning President-elect Obama’s HUD secretary nominee Shaun Donovan that…
« Previous Next »