Housing

Housing matters. A stable, quality, affordable home is a foundation for so many other parts of life. How do we bring it in reach for everyone?

Canada Is Looking Better and Better (The Regent Park Story)

High-density public housing may seem like an idea whose time has come and gone, buried along with the ruins of notorious projects like St....
A black and white photo of Whitman, Philadelphia, residents shout and point to anti-housing demonstrators.

Integrating Whitman

A long-forgotten battle over a set of row houses in South Philadelphia makes current day NIMBYism look tame. What can housing advocates learn from how they finally got built anyway?

“Inclusive Communities” Are Inadequate for the World’s Housing Crises

Housing problems are growing and are likely to worsen with pervasive income inequality and a U.S. population projected to grow by 80 million people by 2050. Yet, the solutions do not match the demand.

Bigger Forces at Play

If social inclusion and the creation of mixed-income neighborhoods is embraced by so many, why does it seem to be so difficult to materialize this vision for the city? Let's look at some examples.

Why We Must Build

We can’t build our way out of the housing crisis . . . but we won’t get out without building.
A simple drawing of a balanced scale has a blue house labeled "before inclusionary requirements" on one side and a red house labeled "after inclusionary requirements" on the other side. Text above reads Do inclusionary housing requirements make housing prices go up for everyone else? No! followed by discussion. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Do inclusionary housing requirements make housing prices go up for everyone else?

A: No, they do not. Market-rate developers are business people. They charge as much as the market will bear. When housing prices go up . . .
Four charts and graphs illustrate how foreclosure rates are still higher than they were pre-crisis, and how recovery is slower in some neighborhoods. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Isn’t the foreclosure crisis over?

A: Not for everyone. Even after significant recovery, most of the country still has record high levels of . . .
Two young students wear smocks as they paint in school.

Build Mixed-Income Housing–But Not in Isolation

A focus on housing connected to education and wellness will be needed to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Using the Wrong Tools to Build Affordable Housing

Along with most Rooflines readers, I believe that having some portion of a community’s housing as long term or permanently affordable is a desirable...

Can San Francisco Get Mixed-Income Public Housing Redevelopment Right?

The HOPE SF program is aiming to explicitly avoid many of the problems mixed-income public housing redevelopments have faced, to create a truly inclusive process.

Making Mixed-Income Developments Work

A single development with an intentional income mix involves very specific challenges—both in its design and its management.
A white three-level building.

Don’t Build Mixed-Income Communities, Buy Them

Building when you could buy is inefficient—and contributes to economic segregation.

It’s All About Choice

Rather than just developing homes for sale, City of Lakes CLT lets buyers pick houses to bring into the land trust.

A Tale of Two Markets: Affordability and the State of the Nation’s Housing in...

For first-time homebuyers with good credit, stable employment, and savings for a down payment, buying a home is more affordable than it has been in decades. For everyone else, however, lower home prices have been a disaster.

PETRA Perspectives: National Alliance of HUD Tenants

NAHT recognizes some positive features of the PETRA proposal. We see value in at least some consolidation to improve consistency and transparency. We appreciate...

Interview with Gabriel Metcalf, author of Democratic by Design

Gabriel Metcalf, CEO of SPUR, discusses his new book, "Democratic by Design: How Carsharing, Co-ops, and Community Land Trusts are Reinventing America."

PETRA Perspectives: National People’s Action—Housing Justice Campaign

We all know public housing needs radical transformation to survive. The system teeters on the verge of collapse: The 1.2 million units of public...

CHA Back in Charge

After 23 years, the Chicago housing authority is no longer in receivership. The court-ordered receivership had placed administrative duties in the hands of a...

PETRA Perspectives: PolicyLink

America has invested in building and supporting housing for lower income people and vulnerable populations for decades. This investment is a critical part of...
The cover of Shelterforce's 162nd issue, Preservation or Privatization.

PETRA Perspectives: Congresswoman Maxine Waters

While PETRA is flawed, it is also the only serious attempt any administration has made to preserve public housing in quite some time.

Are the Kids All Right? Austin Is Asking

Recently here on Rooflines, Tiffany Eng wrote about Oakland’s challenges in “family friendly” planning. Here in Austin, we're facing...

Does Public Housing Have a Future?

Everybody hates public housing, except the low-income people who live there and the people on the long waiting lists to get in. After years of neglect, the Obama administration wants to save public housing for future generations. Let's let them.

Administration Claims Homelessness has Dropped Dramatically. Really?

On July 29, 2008, the White House issued a statement that “chronic homelessness decreased an average of 15 percent per year between 2005 –...
HUD Secretary Julian Castro poses in a formal headshot in front of an American flag.

Interview with HUD Secretary Julian Castro

Shelterforce got a chance to speak with Secretary Julian Castro about some of the current ways in which he’s working to make HUD a force for good in people’s lives, and what steps there are left to be taken.

Memphis’s Unwelcome News

Hanna Rosin has caused quite a stir with her dramatically titled Atlantic Monthly article American Murder Mystery. (For the record, we writers rarely get...

Thinking Gray—And Positive

When I think about all the boards and committees I’ve served on, the clean-up days and neighborhood association events and protests I’ve attended, I...

Building Codes: The Good and the Bad

Recently, Rosanne Haggerty of Community Solutions argued here on Rooflines that outdated building codes—including things like minimum sizes and parking...

Building in Affordability

A range of existing policy tools can help preserve and expand affordable housing near planned transit stations -- but to have the most effect, they need to be put in place up front.

No Cover for Making Home Affordable

We’ve long known that the administration’s collection of foreclosure prevention programs, known together as Making Home Affordable, has been underperforming, with government data indicating...

Demolishing Buildings, and Political Communities

Signs like the one above went up at Chicago's Lathrop Homes a few Fridays ago. In 1999, the Chicago Housing Authority, in step with other...

Have We Been Wasting Affordable Housing Money?

It might seem like 10, or even 30, years is a long time to require affordability—until it’s over and your public investment is lost.

The FHA Refinancing Option for Troubled Loans—Doing it Right

Now that the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act has been signed by the president, let us examine one of its key provisions....

In Making Home Affordable, Banks that Helped Create the Foreclosure Crisis Continue to Profit

In February, the Obama administration launched the Home Affordable Modification Program, an ambitious program that will use up to $75 billion dollars to prevent...
A drawing of a house with a red roof and a red path leading from door is accompanied by text explaining reasons why shared-equity homeownership makes sense in weak-market areas. Image links to pdf version.

Q: What’s the point of shared-equity homeownership in weak market areas?

Shared-equity homeownership is best known as a tool to fight displacement in hot-market areas. But in fact, it has many advantages in weak-market areas too.

The Next Step in Supportive Housing

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, individual-focused healthy lifestyles—regardless of socioeconomic status—became an increased topic of discussion. Along with clear correlations between...

The New Rent Control Wars

On November 4, a near riot broke out in the usually quiet city of Alameda, Ca. The reason? A...
One-pager shows a repeating image of a manufactured home down the center, with myths on the left about why they are bad, and facts on the right. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Are manufactured homes a bad form of affordable housing?

A: Not any more! There are many myths out there about manufactured (or "mobile") homes, but in fact they can be a very important source of quality affordable housing...

Foreclosure Mitigation, Abandoned Properties, What’s Missing?

At an upcoming housing summit in New Jersey, there are promising presentations for anyone who sees the grave danger associated with the foreclosure crisis...

When Supportive Housing Isn’t

The rationale behind supportive housing for people with mental disabilities is that pairing individualized services with permanent housing will help them live independently. But one San Francisco advocate sees more neglect than support.
rent strike

Los Angeles Should Expropriate This Land and Give It to Tenants

Though slumlords are not directly to blame for our nation's wealth disparities, they profit from them. Seizing their property and giving it to tenants would produce a more just and equitable outcome than what has been practiced in the past.
Home by Hand Inc. builds homes on vacant lots for moderate-income homebuyers, who contribute sweat equity and are often joined by volunteers.

Single-Family Subsidies Are Needed Outside Hot Markets

There isn’t a tax credit program available to spur investment in single-family residential neighborhoods, but an alliance of national real estate, housing, community development, lending, and construction organizations is working to change that.

A Fair Housing Agenda for 2008 and Beyond

With more than 3.7 million instances of housing discrimination occurring annually and segregation remaining a central feature of the nation’s housing markets, fair housing...

Interview with Sister Lillian Murphy, CEO of Mercy Housing

For Sister Lillian Murphy of Mercy Housing, your mission must not be an excuse to make bad business decisions.

Interview with John Henneberger of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service–Part 2

John Henneberger talks about expansive definitions of fair housing, exciting organizing work in Texas that the rest of the country should keep an eye on, the role of a state-level advocacy organization, and more.

Speak Out for the Neighborhood Stabilization Act

The foreclosure crisis is a tragedy for an increasing number of families, but what is frequently missing in the media coverage is the negative...

It’s an Affordable Housing Victory, But How Do We Win Over the Towns?

Let’s get one thing clear: at least in New Jersey, we’re having the affordable-housing-as-mandate discussion. The fact that so many taxpayers, elected officials, and...

Joint Center’s Housing Report Points to Challenges Ahead

Describing the problems facing the housing market today as “hard to overstate,” representatives from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies last week announced the...

Garrett Bill Encouraging Private Investment in MBS Deserves Attention

Today, Representative Scott Garrett, R-N.J., chair of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, introduced the Private Mortgage Market Investment Act,...

Housing Seniors, One Person at a Time

“How many people in the room consider their home a safe and affordable place to live?” I asked, and not...

Thoughts on the Trailer

The trailer is the vilified and estranged cousin of the housing world. It's all but banned in many communities, for...

Back in a Bubble?

It’s been less than four years since the end of the Great Recession, yet signs point to another potential...

In Rural America, Veterans Continue to Fight for Housing Aid

No veteran who has risked their life to protect our homes should return to find that they are not...

If Affordable Housing Were Stylish Would We Build More of It?

In response to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's new housing plan goal of 200,000 units “created or preserved,” Justin...

Chattanooga Is Densifying Its Downtown–Will It Diversify Too?

Chattanooga, Tenn., has done some impressive things over the past few decades, being forward looking first in terms of...

The “Both/And” of the Housing Debate

Paul Krugman, the darling of progressive policymakers in the U.S., weighed in on the urban housing question recently, coming...

Part II: The Great Production Debate

In response to an earlier piece that examines the potential of design enhancement for neighborhood revitalization, housing development consultant Bob Santucci argues for high-quality, low-cost affordable housing production.
From top left, Ingrid Gould Ellen of the Furman Center at New York University; Jamaal Green of Portland State University; Rosanne Haggerty of Community Solutions; and Rick Jacobus of Street Level Advisors. From bottom left, Greg Maher of the Leviticus Alternative Fund; Alan Mallach of the Center for Community Progress and a National Housing Institute senior fellow; and Charlie Wilkins, a consultant and co-author of the AEI paper.

Regulation and Housing Supply: Where the Left & Right Agree (Sort Of)

We gathered some people who have done a lot of thinking and studying on regulation to discuss what it might look like to actually remove obstacles that get in the way of developing less expensive housing options responsibly. What's possible? What are the trade-offs?

Housing Assistance for All Is a Matter of Racial Justice–and It’s Achievable

Project-based Section 8 has been a successful public-private partnership that helps provide affordable housing to very low-income households while...

Stepping Back From “Stepping Forward”

Public housing tenants are celebrating the Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) decision to retract a controversial plan to raise rents by more than 400 percent in the coming years. The “Stepping Forward” plan, announced last September, was immediately met with stiff resistance from tenants mostly organized through the Tenants Union of Washington State (TUWS). In November, […]
A key in focus

Despite Progress, States Have Work to do to Ensure Access to Affordable Rental Housing...

If expanding access to homeownership can reverse the trends of growing racial wealth inequality, why are we seeing so many states roll back the supports that make homeownership possible?
Mabel Duffy, Myrtle Stern, and the May Day marching band occupy a major intersection in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Game of Chance: Mass Eviction in Pittsburgh

In Pittsburgh, hundreds of Penn Plaza residents were given 90-day eviction notices after their building was slated for demolition. The mass eviction was well known throughout Pittsburgh, but few knew what was happening inside the building.
migrant farm workers

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 27

Climate Gentrification | A Marijuana Tax for Housing? | Homeownership Alone Can't Close the Wealth Gap | Illegal ICE Raids on Farms | Keeping An Eye on Opportunity Zones | More...
rent control

Here’s Why Costa-Hawkins Repeal Would Be Revolutionary for Housing in California

Rent control is one of the foremost demands of grassroots movements organizing around housing justice today. To activists across the country, from Los Angeles...
Avalon Trace was renamed Cottage Gardens after the 176-unit complex was sold to a new owner in 2018.

Condemning Asthma, Not Homes in North Carolina

An apartment complex in North Carolina generated 120 times as many hospital visits as would have been expected for its population, until a creative coalition forced its sale and worked with the new owner to change things.
voters in booths

Ignore the Myth—Voters *Do* Rally for Housing

When it comes to whether voters support building more housing as one key strategy for expanding affordability, election outcomes show the case is closed.
Shelterforce spoke with (from left) former HUD secretaries Henry Cisneros, who worked under President Clinton, and Mel Martinez, who worked under President Bush.

Interview with Former HUD Secretaries Senator Mel Martinez and Mayor Henry Cisneros

At the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Summit on Sept. 15 and 16, five former HUD secretaries joined a panel discussing their time at the...

Raising Voices

In 1990, Atlanta’s per capita income was below that of its metro area. But in 2004, after years of encouraging professionals to move to...

Californians Defend Rent Control

On Tuesday, California voters provided a tremendous victory for tenants’ rights. They defeated Proposition 98, which would have phased out rent control, by...

Mortgage Buyout Plan Changes by the Hour

John McCain made news Tuesday night during the town hall-style debate with Barack Obama when he announced his plan to buy up bad mortgages...

“An Antiforeclosure Plan That Works”

Dean Baker, co-director for the Washington, DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research will present his case in the Winter 2009 issue of Shelterforce...

Waiting for Details: NJ’s Foreclosure Relief Corp.

New Jersey has roughly $300 million in a housing trust fund that is currently unused, so on first glance, a...

Mixing Multiple Housing Types Within Multiunit Buildings

There are two ways to look at the issue, in terms of what is 1) called “land tenure“ or in...

Thinking About a Second Term Federal Housing and Urban Agenda: Part I

President Obama has been re-elected, and hope springs eternal. I’ve started to think about a second term housing and urban...

Braided Lives: Habitat–Land Trust Partnerships Bring Each Back to Their Roots

Though they started at the same place around the same time, community land trusts and Habitat for Humanity soon went...

In India, Large-scale Housing Solutions Don’t Work

In the latest issue of Shelterforce, I proposed that community development practitioners in the U.S. could learn from Dharavi,...
dilapidated home

Targeted Blight Remediation Yields Big Results

In the first study of its kind, the Data Collaborative has found that targeted blight enforcement activities help stave off increased tax delinquencies and...

Julian Castro Must Uphold Fair Housing

Last week, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed San Antonio Mayor Juliàn Castro to lead the Department of Housing and...

What An Affordable Housing Victory Looks Like in DC

There is big affordable housing news from DC. HUD and Congress are not involved. In fact, the federal government...

Don’t Rush to Judge These Three Artist’s Lofts in The Twin Cities

There has been some debate recently around three Minnesota affordable housing projects. The Carleton Place Lofts, Schmidt Artist Lofts,...

Why Aren’t We Building Middle Income Housing?

In a previous Shelterforce blog post, I argued that we cannot give up hope that the market will build middle-income housing. Granted, over the past...

Private Money Successfully Fixing Public Housing

[Editor's note: Over the past several years, Shelterforce has covered HUD's plans to address the capital funding backlog in public housing through allowing PHAs to take on private debt here, here, and here, when it was announced in its first form, PETRA, or the Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance initiative. This op-ed by […]
An exterior view of a rowhouse in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania that appears to have some water damage.

Rowhouse Repairs for Health in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, health care professionals and housing advocates are working together to deliver home repairs to low-income homeowners.
Michael Bodaken

Interview with Michael Bodaken, retiring director of the National Housing Trust

Shelterforce took the occasion of Michael Bodaken's retiring from the National Housing Trust to speak with him about how he got into housing, some of his favorite projects, and his recommendations for the field going forward.

Slow Building of Community on Lopez Island

Lopez Community Land Trust combined community control of land, permanent affordability, permaculture principles, a net-zero energy goal, green designs, individual empowerment and fun, into one ambitious housing development project.
Kennetha Patterson of Homes for All in Nashville speaks on a megaphone during Renter’s Week of Action.

Tenant Power: Organizing for Rent Strikes and Landlord Negotiations

In the face of high rent increases and substandard housing, many tenants are realizing they are not alone in their landlord troubles and are joining together to push for building-level wins, and policy change.
housing sign

Housing Advocates—Seize This Moment!

I’ve been working to address housing affordability since the late 1970s. There has never been this much media and public focus on the issue.
multifamily buildings

Hey YIMBYs, Thanks for Listening

The path to winning a pro-equity, pro-growth majority involves more (not less) investment in fighting displacement.

Beyond the Farm

New trends in rural community development make the work of rural CDCs appear more in line with that of their big-city counterparts.

Atlanta’s Pittsburgh Neighborhood: Building the Sustainable Urban Community

One Atlanta neighborhood's experience of the housing bubble and expected transit investment leads it to invest in a land trust and a vision based in sustainability.

Vets Get Access to Land Trust Homeownership

VA home loan guaranties and community land trusts are perfect partners—but not everyone knows that yet.
One-pager starts with Do inclusionary zoning requirements halt development? No! After a paragraph citing the research, there is an image of people back-lit on construction scaffolding, surrounded by quotes from public officials about how inclusionary measures have been good for their housing market. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Do inclusionary zoning requirements halt development?

A: No! Research shows that hasn't been the case. And here's what local officials in places that have implemented it had to say . . .

Gentrification Keeps Trying to Improve its Image

The latest report on gentrification in American cities is also the latest to try to give it a decent name. The new study says...

Obama’s Foreclosure Plan: Just the Facts

The Obama administration announced February 18 its Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan that aims to offer assistance to as many as 9 million homeowners...

Budget Cuts and Homeless Veterans

In March, as part of a series looking at the impact of state and local budget cuts on communities across the country, New Jersey...

Where Do the Candidates Stand on The Foreclosure Crisis?

One issue that has been conspicuously missing from all this talk about our economy is the ongoing home opportunity crisis.

Update: Going Upstream on Underwater Mortgages

In our Winter 2011 issue on capital markets and neighborhood stabilization we reported on some programs to buy mortgages and...

“Move.” Governor Jerry Brown’s Troubling View of Affordable Housing

California Governor Jerry Brown is known for expressing ideas outside the standard political box. But in the case of California’s...

Rep. Watt Can Save the American Dream

Change is coming to the most important government agency, one that most Americans have never heard of. For many months,...

Eminent Domain to Save Homes?

They're back. Mortgage Resolution Partners has joined with another California city, Richmond this time, pushing a plan...

Another Way to Invest in Mobile Home Parks

In recent weeks, a number of major publications have published articles about manufactured housing communities as investments for wealthy...