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Affordable Housing

The Fight To Bring Chicago Home Isn’t Over

“Bring Chicago Home.” It was a rallying cry that grew in volume and urgency over more than six years and three mayoral administrations — a demand for a dedicated funding stream to house the city’s homeless residents, numbering over 68,000 according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, including up to 20,000 students. The source of the funds would be an increased (but still modest) transfer tax on property sales over $1 million.  The campaign started in 2017 during the tenure of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, dubbed ​“Mayor 1%” for his record of investing in wealthy neighborhoods and downtown at the expense of the city’s diverse working class population.

Clean Energy Investments Must Prioritize Climate-Resilient Housing

Whether it’s a homeowner wanting to install a heat pump, a restaurant looking to invest in solar panels, or a neighborhood organization hoping to add local green energy capacity, cost and ease of financing pose barriers to improving climate resilience for many people businesses, and organizations nationwide. Too often, traditional banks are skeptical of or have not previously supported climate investments. Filling this gap requires intentional policymaking, which the Biden Administration has prioritized through its new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), a first-of-its-kind $27 billion fund to finance a sustainable climate future for generations to come.

First City-Wide Rent Reduction In The History Of New York Upheld

New York State’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 permits the regulation of residential rents (“rent stabilization”) on the declaration of a housing emergency in New York City when the vacancy rate falls below 5%, or by similar declarations in municipalities in the suburban New York City counties of Nassau, Westchester and Rockland. A “Rent Guidelines Board” then has the power to set guidelines for rent adjustments. Today about half of all apartments in New York City are rent stabilized.

Finally, A Path Toward ‘Modern Housing’ In 2024

In 1934, the architectural critic Catherine Bauer published one of the most important books ever written on housing. “Modern Housing,” based on years of research in Europe, recounts the sharp differences between the American and European approaches to the similar housing crises both regions experienced after World War I. Political movements for dignified housing forced many European nations, such as England, Germany and the Netherlands, to invest in what Bauer termed “modern housing”: non-speculative, affordable homes with adequate space, light, ventilation and community space.

Why Did Baltimore Lavish Tens Of Millions In Tax Breaks?

Baltimore is often maligned as a shrinking city beset by crime and intractable poverty. But take a walk down President Street just south of Little Italy on a Friday night, and you will enter a world that appears far removed from the idea of a city that is terminally in decay. Past the empty pavilions of the Inner Harbor and east of the city’s increasingly troubled downtown business district, a cluster of towering high-rises emerges from the harbor like a defiant mountain range of concrete. A cobblestone boulevard leads to a European-style thoroughfare dotted with a dazzling array of upscale restaurants and outdoor dining patios.

Public Ownership Of Housing Could Be Closer Than You Think

The housing crisis in New York is the worst it’s been in over five decades, and low-income residents are being hit the hardest. As a result, homelessness is on the uptick and working-class families are being forced out of the city at an alarming rate. In the midst of this emergency, an array of progressive politicians and organizers are joining in an effort to move away from private sector development as the sole tool to address the severe housing shortage. In early February, New York State Assemblymember Emily Gallagher and State Sen. Cordell Cleare introduced a bill to create the Social Housing Development Authority.

Black Investors Take Back Legal Tool To Restore Chicago’s Affordable Housing

It was early 2020 when Jay Davis realized his family was going to lose his childhood home, a red brick house in Rosemoor on the South Side of Chicago that had been in his family for generations. Davis’ great-uncle had been living there, and as his dementia worsened the one-story house began to deteriorate. When he died, he left it to his son who had serious health issues and could not maintain the home, Davis said. Davis, 41, wanted to keep the house from becoming another vacant lot on the South Side. He understood the significance of homeownership as a tool for building generational wealth that has been denied to many Black Chicagoans due to racist practices like redlining and predatory lending.

California Is Showing The Potential Of Strip Mall-To-Housing Conversions

State and local jurisdictions are desperately looking for new ways to speed up affordable housing development as the supply of homes falls short of demand nearly everywhere in the U.S. This fall, the Biden-Harris administration announced new resources to support commercial conversions to create affordable housing. While much of the focus is on office conversions, an idea that swept the nation as millions of Americans transitioned to remote work, relatively few office buildings are physically suitable for conversion. The costs can be incredibly high and the surrounding neighborhoods, often in business districts, are not necessarily conducive to new housing and the needs of residents.

‘Subsidizing Abuse’ Investigates Affordable Housing Industry’s Record

At least $84 Million in Minnesota state and municipal funds earmarked for affordable housing projects have gone towards contractors with records or accusations of worker exploitation, from wage theft to misclassification to labor trafficking to sexual abuse, according to a new report. Subsidizing Abuse: How Public Financing Fuels Exploitation in Affordable Housing Construction was published on November 14 by North Star Policy Action, which calls itself “an independent research and communications institute.” It was authored by Jake Schwitzer from North Star Policy Action and Lucas Franco from Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).

New Law Gives Mobile Home Residents A Chance To Buy Their Parks

A mobile home park in Moses Lake is up for sale and a new state law assures residents a shot at buying the property. In the past they might’ve never known it was on the market until after it was sold. Owners of North Pointe notified residents on July 17 that they are looking to sell the 25-space  mobile home park. This started the clock on a process providing those living there and eligible organizations approved by the state Department of Commerce an opportunity to compete with other potential buyers. That chance is etched into a law that took effect Sunday and is intended to help preserve this stock of affordable housing.

Our Missing Middle Housing Didn’t Just Go Missing

In early February, the city commission in Decatur, Georgia voted to amend the city’s zoning law to allow the construction of “duplex, triplex, and quadruplex residential units” in “single-family residential zoning districts” — what many housing advocates call missing middle housing. The legislation followed on the heels of 20 years of special studies, litigation and resident agitation over the city’s declining affordable housing stock, gentrification and displacement. By early 2023, it was too late to preserve the Atlanta suburb’s affordable housing stock. As for Decatur’s diversity, the tipping point for demographic and economic inversion had been reached long ago.

There Is An Alternative: Social Housing In Vienna

Vienna, Austria - We all know we have a housing crisis all across our country.  Rents have skyrocketed; there are insufficient numbers of apartments and houses available; many people in our cities are unhoused; rent control is considered too radical; there are few protections against evictions.  The American dream has long included home ownership and stable safe neighborhoods.  But the dream has become a nightmare as racism and capitalism leave some without homes altogether, and have displaced so many more.  Most discouraging, few people see any alternatives to the current system of how housing is allocated and paid for. But there is an alternative.  Two members of Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) were in Vienna, Austria recently and saw how things could be different.

‘Affordable’ For Whom?

Providence, Rhode Island - Around 90 people gathered in Burnside Park in Providence, Rhode Island on Sept. 1 to protest a development plan for so-called “affordable” housing. The plan would give millions in government subsidies and tax breaks to a private real estate developer to convert The Industrial National Bank Building into luxury apartments. Like the rest of the country, Rhode Island is in the midst of a statewide housing crisis where truly affordable housing is almost impossible to find, and evictions and rent hikes run rampant. Protesters called on the government to fund public, affordable homes while protesting the gross misuse of a building which could house hundreds of families.

Residents Refuse To Be Forced From Homes Won Through Past Struggle

Forty years ago, residents of Philadelphia won a subsidized housing community in the area known as Black Bottom after fighting the discrimination and displacement being used to clear the way for University City. Now the city is allowing that community, 72 residences called University City Townhomes (UCT), to be sold for gentrification. Clearing the FOG spoke with Rasheda Alexander, a resident of UCT, and Sterling Johnson of Philadelphia Housing Action about their efforts to protect UCT and stop the wave of evictions and displacement that primarily target low income black and brown people. Their organizing and actions have not only been effective in putting pressure on city officials but have also brought the community together and inspired others to stand up for their rights. See SaveTheUCTownhomes.com for more information.

Tackling The Housing Crisis With Public Power

Rhode Island - In June, Rhode Island passed a $10 million pilot program that will use COVID-19 stimulus money to build mixed-income public housing. By acting as a public developer itself, Rhode Island would be the only state to acquire its own land and build housing directly, cutting out profit-gouging developers — a model approach for the rest of the country amid a housing crisis that has only grown more dire since the start of the pandemic. The state’s pilot housing program is already shaking things up at the local level. On Monday, Providence mayoral candidate Gonzalo Cuervo added a municipal public developer plan to his housing policy platform as Reclaim RI — the progressive organizing group that backed the state’s pilot program — endorsed his campaign. Cuervo also adopted a rent stabilization plan that would institute a four percent cap on year-over-year rent increases.
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