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?

Believing in Homeownership: How It Affects the Desire to Buy

Last week I wrote about the first part of my recent research into beliefs about the benefits homeownership: messages conveyed...

The Wave that Follows The Atlantic

When The Atlantic dropped Hanna Rosin’s story linking Section 8 housing with increases in violent crime in Memphis neighborhoods, the ripple effect went well...

From Food to Housing: Sacrificing Quality for Quantity in the Colonias

In November, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Too Much of Too Little” about recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition...

The Best Thing I Didn’t Hear All Week

I'm in Lexington, Ky., this week for the National Community Land Trust Network conference, hosted by the Lexington Community Land Trust. The Lexington CLT had...

Time to Learn from Europe on Housing?

Since we recently had bloggers squaring off on the question of whether expanding homeownership really is an important policy priority in and of itself (Alan Mallach: Yes, Tony Roshan Samara: No), I thought it was interesting to throw this New Yorker article into the mix—a reminder that many of our tax subsidies ($200 billion a […]

Learning from San Francisco’s Housing Movement

From Urban Renewal and Displacement to Economic Inclusion: San Francisco Affordable Housing Policy 1978-2012, by Marcia Rosen and Wendy Sullivan. National Housing Law Project...

Is Housing the Homeless a Success?

Randy Shaw at Beyond Chron has a great take down of some newspaper columnists' inconsistent and illogical arguments against spending...

Manufactured Housing: Underutilized and Misunderstood

What will it take for manufactured housing, the principal source of unsubsidized, affordable homes in the United States, to reach its potential? Limited and expensive financing options make life even more difficult for the financially vulnerable residents who live in manufactured housing (MH) communities. The continuing consolidation of ownership is taking a toll, and the […]

Tiny Houses, Big Dreams

Not long ago I was part of a conversation with a builder who wanted to put some tiny houses on some tiny lots. The...
The entrance to The Village of Wilde Lake in Columbia, Maryland.

Resident Democracy by Design in Maryland

Democracy is messy and takes effort and time. Knowing my neighbors and being jointly responsible for our shared spaces make that effort worth our time and help make us better people, with skills in making decisions together and practice caring for each other.
California homes aerial

Tackling Exclusionary Housing Policy in California

Diving into the issue of exclusionary practices that have exacerbated the housing crisis and offering some policy solutions.

Homelessness Is Falling Despite Worsening Conditions. Why?

Editor’s Note: The following are excerpts from the keynote speech given by Nan Roman, the executive director of the National...

The Reality of Poverty Deconcentration

A “moral panic” over crime in central cities, combined with a demand for reform of the most troubled public housing developments, led to a profound shift in the late 1980s in how this country housed poor people.

4 Lessons from “Envisioning Home”

Relationships are critical to promoting affordable housing and community development, but how we invest in those relationships may be even...

Renters Rising

How San Francisco’s housing movement turned an assault on renters into a victory

What are your thoughts on proposed changes to HARP to help out underwater borrowers?

Last week, we asked readers “What are your thoughts on proposed changes to HARP to help out underwater borrowers?” Here’s how you responded: You said: “While...

Sharing the Story of #Homelessness

I believe that a good story has the power to move people to action. That’s why, after...

How Could Homelessness Have Barely Budged During the Recession?

FACT: Rates of homelessness in the U.S. remained essentially unchanged between 2008-2012. This is surprising indeed, especially against the...

A Year Later, Can the Grenfell Tower Fire Be a Catalyst for Reimagining Housing...

Glyn Robbins talks about what led him to view U.K. and U.S. housing policy as intertwined, how public protest stifled the Conservative Party’s 2016 Housing Act, and what’s changed in the wake of Grenfell Tower fire.

States Undercutting Historic Mortgage Settlement

Early this year, in a settlement with 49 state attorneys general, the five largest banks in the United States—Citi,...

A New Paradigm for California Transit: Equity, Sustainability, and Housing

Across the country, inequity is a defining issue of our time, and in Los Angeles and the San Francisco...

The Shadow (Inventory) Knows

What used to be dismissed as a bogeyman by real estate professionals is now a reality of unknown capacity: homes that fall into the...

Keeping Hope (And Housing) Alive in LA

Wall Street is in meltdown. Banks are collapsing. Developers can’t get loans to build homes. Housing values are plummeting. Millions of Americans are facing...

“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.
police car

What—and Who—Is a “Nuisance”?

Why are nuisance ordinances proliferating nationwide, and who is disproportionately affected?
multifamily building

We Need State Law that Allows Multifamily Housing

The New Jersey Legislature should seriously consider adopting a statewide law that defines “single family” zoning as permitting one or two units on one lot.

Land Banks and Community Land Trusts: Not Synonyms or Antonyms. Complements

Land banks and community land trusts (CLTs) are often perceived as “off mission” or antithetical tools that are not suited for the same environments. Conversely, they also tend be conflated as one and the same. Neither perception, however, reflects reality.

San Francisco CLT Buys Victorian Home, Turns It Co-op to Prevent Evictions

The San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) last month purchased a 14-bedroom Victorian home with a rich history to prevent...

Foreclosure Nightmare Continues for “Famous” Chicago Renters

Esteban Cruz digs his hands into a big plastic tub of letters and documents bundled and labeled by month. This mass of paper represents...

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...
vote sign on boarded window

Bold Political Leadership on Housing Policy? In 2018? You Heard Right

Local elected officials are having to re-examine the risks and rewards of making housing and housing affordability a political priority. Could one mayor's bold steps on housing policy be a national bellwether?

Raising Rents on the Poorest of the Poor?

Lest we get totally lost in the (important) debates about principal reduction and restructuring the secondary market, Barbara Sard of...
Brick apartment building

Newly-Suspended HUD Rule Would Have Expanded Access to Neighborhood Opportunity

After years-long notice and comment periods, a final rule on using small area Fair Market Rents to determine housing choice voucher payment levels was supposed to take effect. However, the Trump administration has recently announced a two-year suspension of the rule.
crowd at outdoor event

Building Children Out of Our Cities

It’s been said that children are the indicator species of urban health and great neighborhoods, and by this measure, Oakland is in trouble.

Understanding Rural Homelessness

Rural homelessness differs from urban and suburban homelessness. The image of an individual sleeping on the street, clearly visible...

Housing Finance Reform Doesn’t Need to Start with Congress

Later this month, as every reader no doubt knows, the Senate Banking committee will mark up the bipartisan housing...

Greater Equality is a Must in Reviving the Economy

Adopting a more equitable housing policy goes beyond a moral imperative. It is critical to our economic success. Highlights from the 2011 Equity Summit.

Donovan Touts Administration’s Housing Policies, Though Acknowledges “Daunting Set of Challenges”

WASHINGTON — Addressing a crowd of low income housing advocates, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan promoted the Obama administration’s housing policy here, but acknowledged that...
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.

Defending Progressive State Housing and Land Use Policies

The fates of three venerable policies on fair share housing and sustainable land use can point the way for how to support similar efforts in other states.

Keep Single Family Homes in Mind

I enjoyed looking at the examples of smart growth in NRDC’s new online feature, Picturing Smart Growth. Thanks to Kaid Benfield for bringing this...

Is It Important to Save the 30-year Fixed-Rate Mortgage?

Last week, we asked you to share your thoughts on preserving the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Here’s how you responded. Selected reader comments at the...
A San Francisco neighborhood with the Oakland Bay Bridge in the center.

Why San Francisco Outdoes New York City on Tenant Rights

New York City has been outpaced by San Francisco in protecting tenants since the latter adopted rent control in 1979. While protections for the city's tenants have steadily weakened and even disappeared since the 1990s, San Francisco’s rent control and eviction protection laws have expanded and strengthened.
tents and tarps on a lot

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 6

Gentrification Is Bad For One's Health | Housing Teachers-At School | Protecting Space for Local Business | TOD Doesn't Have to Displace | Community Artists Win in Court | More . . .
Atlanta's BeltLine bike path bordered by new homes.

Sustainable for Whom? Large-Scale Sustainable Urban Development Projects and “Environmental Gentrification”

Absent a fundamentally new approach to redevelopment planning that places housing affordability at the center of the process, large-scale sustainable development projects are likely to become engines of what has been termed “environmental gentrification.”

Balancing Act

Old definitions may be obsolete as CDCs weigh whether to grow and how to build their impact in today's social and economic environment.

Still Riding Route 61

A labor/community partnership stops a fare hike and gives workers a boost

HUD Announces NSP3

HUD has announced round three of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which allows for an additional $1 billion of funding to states and communities fighting...

Section 8 Is Only One Part of Addressing the Housing Crisis

Editor’s Note: The following is a response to a comment posted by Rooflines blogger Nandinee Kutty that points to “serious weaknesses” in Section 8...

FHA Sends Mixed Signals to Nonprofits on Sales of Delinquent Loans

Last week, FHA announced 11 significant changes to the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program (DASP), a federal program that sells...

From Motel to “Growtel”

A young man trying to build the urban farm economy in West Sacramento, Calif., has a novel idea. He saw...
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.

Worse Than a Tornado: Neighborhood Stabilization Amid the Foreclosure Crisis

NHI’s David Sailer appeared in the February 2009 issue of Planning magazine to address “the insidious destruction of entire neighborhoods now goes largely unnoticed.”...

New Regulations for Loan Modification and Refinance

According to the Treasury, as many as six million families are expected to face foreclosure in the next several years, with millions more struggling...

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...

Put the “Choice” in “Housing Choice Vouchers”

In June, Alexander Polikoff, lead counsel in the decades-long Gautreaux Chicago Public Housing desegregation litigation, spoke to HUD staff on the FHEO Speaker Series. ...

Advancing Home Opportunity on Capitol Hill

On January 22 I spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing entitled “A Compact for Home Opportunity: What America Can Do...

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...

Fear of Affordable Housing: Perception vs. Reality

Affordable housing developments are often controversial and give rise to claims of dire consequences for quality of life and property values. But once they are built, does anyone realize they are there?

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...

The Effects of NIMBY and How to Overcome Them

This is Part 4 in a series on NIMBY and affordable housing. To catch up on the rest of...

The Case for Plan B

Housing professionals have spent so much time making homeownership attainable through subsidized payments, they've failed to see there's a better path to affordable homeownership.
A group of people stand in front of a Chicago home that was rehabbed.

Back in the Game: CDFIs Help 1- to 4-Unit Rental Housing Rebound in Chicago

After the housing crash, Chicago’s 1- to 4-unit rentals weren’t bouncing back in many neighborhoods. Three CDFIs came together to make it happen.

Housing Doesn’t Filter, Neighborhoods Do

There has been a renewed interest in the role that the real estate market can play in solving our...

Saving Mark-to-Market

Housing advocates are calling on HUD to support renewing the Mark-to-Market program, one of the more successful efforts to address the expiration of Section...

Community Is a Moving Target in Los Angeles

Empowerment is the ultimate response to displacement: perpetual affordability in a process that gives folks a stake in discussions and in an economy from which they are usually shut out.

Massachusetts is watching

Given the interesting but not widely known fact that foreclosure rates in the current crisis are lower in neighborhoods with a larger percentage of...

The Administration’s Short-Sale Program

The New York Times is reporting a new tack taken by the Obama administration to address the foreclosure crisis, this time acknowledging that some...

Too Many Bargains With Pending Foreclosure Settlement, Advocates Worry

Housing advocates and many legislators are voicing their concern with an anticipated $25 billion settlement stemming from an investigation by...
The cover of Generation Priced Out by Randy Shaw.

Millennials and the Affordability Crisis: A Review of Generation Priced Out

Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America by Randy Shaw. University of California Press, 2018, 304 pp., $18.20 hardcover. Purchase a copy at https://amzn.to/2BtF11h

In Defense of the 30 Percent of Income to Housing Affordability Rule–In Some Cases

At an individual level, the 30 percent standard and the residual-income standard can produce very different results. But as a regional measure of affordability problems, they’re not so far apart.
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 . . .

BPC’s Housing Commission Sounds Promising…

The DC-based think tank Bipartisan Policy Center announced the full member roster of its housing commission last week. The announcement comes two months after...

Short-Term Funds With Long-Term Impact

The changes that stimulus funding made in Lane County, Oregon’s homelessness prevention will last past the funds themselves—but they could have a lot more effect, especially for veterans, if federal funding continued.

Restructuring in the works for some CDCs

What do you do when your CDC can’t afford to buy pencils or print business cards, and certainly can’t buy land or buildings? You consider...

We All Need to Join In The President’s Fight To Overhaul The Financial Industry

On Monday, as I entered Federal Hall on Wall Street to hear President Barack Obama’s speech, a huge crowd gathered outside the building hoping...

Believing in Homeownership: Where Does the American Dream Idea Come From?

Homeownership in the U.S. has long been associated with a wide range of positive outcomes–from investment potential to social stability...
Patrons looking at gallery wall.

If We Want the Arts in Baltimore, We Need Its Artists

Artists have left their mark on Station North and paved the way for an arts district, but the organically-developed communal live/work spaces that play such a vital role in helping make Baltimore an arts mecca are an endangered species.

Where are people returning to the community from prison supposed to live?

The United States is incarceration happy. Our incarceration rate is five times as high as comparable countries, and has been the highest in the...

No Vacancy! Moving to Opportunity in Baltimore’s suburbs

Denial, Fear and the Rumor Mill Waged a War Against Moving to Opportunity in Baltimore's Suburbs For the past 18 years, the Leadership Council for...
YIMBY Action members chant over activists of color during an counter protest in California.

YIMBY, White Privilege, and the Soul of Our Cities

A common narrative being promoted about why there is a housing crisis ignores history and serves to assuage new residents’ guilty feelings. But we can craft a new narrative together.

Homeowners Can’t Afford Another Missed Opportunity

This post is part of an ongoing series based on the National Fair Housing Alliance report, “The Banks Are Back,...

In It Together

The latest book by Bill McKibben, the well-known environmental journalist and activist, poses a provocative question for community economic developers: How do we improve...

Could an Anti-Homelessness Program Also Stabilize Affordable Housing Supply?

Periodically in the affordable housing world, a few of us acknowledge the fact that the vast majority of low-income people live in unsubsidized rental...

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...
polling place

Housing Advocacy Needs Housing Voters

Methods from a successful organizing campaign from the past can inform the basis of a new electoral constituency around housing.

Foreclosure Mitigation Plans Need Work and Need Work Now

The Congressional Oversight Panel assembled a year ago when TARP was enacted in order to review the regulatory system and financial markets offered a...

Persistent Poverty in Rural America

Poverty rates are on the rise and more Americans are living in poverty than at any other time since the...

CDCs Must Recognize Changing Conditions

It was announced this week that new home sales dropped 15 percent in December. This follows a year of similar news. Earlier in the...

CA’s Surprisingly Strong Stand in Support of Inclusionary Housing

In the whole string of related inclusionary housing decisions, what emerges is a story of a multi-decade coordinated effort by the real estate development industry to limit its reach.

Interview with Ron Faris, Ocwen CEO

We speak with Ocwen CEO Ron Faris about why principal reduction makes business sense and some of the myths that get perpetuated about it.

Community Land Cooperatives Should Oversee Neighborhood Economic Development

This nonprofit is organizing a real estate investment cooperative for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, with the exclusive purpose of incubating, funding, and assisting “community land cooperatives.”
water trickle

The Real Reasons Affordable Housing Isn’t Being Built in California

The meager supply of affordable housing is a major contributor to housing's high cost, yet the policy tools to address the shortfall often seem to worsen the problem. But this is because they ignore the underlying infrastructure and financing to support growth.

Should We Want Home Prices to Rise?

Over on the media watchdog site FAIR, economist Dean Baker takes Boston Community Capital director Elyse Cherry to task for...

Promising News from the Post-Civil Rights Suburbs

The passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act promised greater suburban housing opportunities for people of color in the U.S. Yet, progress has been slow. Over half of African Americans, Latinos, and Asians live in the suburbs, but the typical middle-income African American household still lives in a neighborhood with a higher poverty rate than […]

The Most Important Land Use Analysis You’ll See This Year

The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology has dramatically expanded its location efficiency mapping and analysis to 337 metropolitan areas across the country. This impressive...

FHA’s Delicate Balancing Act

The FHA’s recent financial report card to Congress indicating that the agency may need to turn to the US Treasury...

Rural Life, Invisible

Rural places can feel like they go on forever, without physical borders. It may take an hour or longer to...
fast food signs

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Oct. 12

News from—and affecting—the community development world. This week: fast food swamps, Seattle has too many apartments, criminal justice, basic income pilot, more.
Chris Wilder, Valley Medical Center Foundation CEO, holds a sign that reads "Yes on A: Affordable Housing. Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home." The initiative tied health and housing funding for county residents.

Housing Is Health: Ballot Initiatives in California Approved

A conversation with three county supervisors who were instrumental in moving affordable housing ballot measures forward in the California Bay Area by bringing in the health factor.