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?

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.

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....

The American Dream Under Duress?

“For most Americans, the housing crisis is hardly a thing of the past.” This is how Hart Research Associates opened its presentation...

Stopping Declining Homeownership Requires More than Affordability

According to recent research, the availability of starter and “trade-up” homes is in the midst of a four-year decline,...

Has the Housing Movement Found Something to Unite Around?

I've been around the affordable housing field for a little while (not as long as many of our readers though...

Quit the HAMP Bashing!

Joe Kriesberg, director of the Massachusetts Association of CDCs, is tired of hearing people bash HAMP. He wrote this piece about it last December,...

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 Demo a Good Use of AG Settlement Funds?

While the $25 billion national mortgage settlement is widely viewed as a “first step” toward fixing a larger system...

New Jersey Regional Coalition Wins Affordable-Housing Victory

Tomorrow afternoon, Gov. Jon Corzine will sign one of the most important changes to New Jersey’s affordable-housing laws since the Fair Housing Act was...

Another Tired Argument Against ACORN

It’s not news in the most literal sense (you know, revelatory, fresh, etc.), but AP reports this week that conservatives are, once again, tacking...

Rural Housing: An Election Day Post-Mortem

For those of us in the rural housing silo, the most significant November 4 result may be a fairly ho-hum and fully expected re-election in Eastern Kentucky. In the nation’s most rural Congressional district, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) ran against the same Democratic opponent he defeated in 2012 with 78 percent of […]

HUD Was Wrong To Suspend This Important Tool For Racial Equity

On May 8, 2018, three fair housing groups took action to preserve an important tool for community empowerment and equity.
lobby with construction materials and plastic sheeting

A Case of Construction Eviction in Queens

How tenant and rent protections failed the residents of eight rent-stabilized buildings in Queens.

Dear Mom, Here’s What Crashed the Economy (Part II)

In case you missed the first post in this series, you can link to it here. You should read it....

Stirring Up Change in the Steel Belt

The steel belt, once famous for its smoky cities, is capitalizing on a renewed public awareness of the environment to achieve tangible neighborhood change....
NYC skyline painted on brick wall.

New York City Becomes a Hotbed of Community Land Trust Innovation

New York seems poised to move the concept of community land trusts in new and exciting directions.

The Hawaii Model Succeeds

Before Hawaii's new foreclosure prevention law passed, Hawaii had the 11th highest foreclosure rate in the nation. One in every...

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...

Mapping the Meltdown (And Some Possible Exits)

If you’ve ever had occasion in your life to stop and ask yourself “How did I end up HERE?” you already know you don’t...

FHA Expands Disposition Program

HUD announced today that it will make 3,500 distressed loans available through its Distressed Asset Stabilization Program—part of an expansion to the...

No Road Home for New Orleans Minorities?

Two fair housing organizations are alleging that HUD’s Road Home program valued homes in white neighborhoods in New Orleans higher than similar homes in...

Can’t Look Past the Rescue Short Fall

As Look Past the Bailout Blather notes, there are aspects of American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 that are welcomed....

Beyond Sequestration

The Real Risks Lie in a Deficit Reduction Deal to Replace It Sequestration — the harsh, indiscriminate...

Homeownership Is a Culprit in The Racial Wealth Divide

Homeowners' Equity (HOE)—the market value of residential real estate minus the value of home-secured debt—has long been the largest...

Washington Post Misses the Point on Inclusionary Zoning

Earlier this week, The Washington Post featured an article by Jeffrey O’Connell headlined, “DC affordable housing policy has put up a goose egg.” ...

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now: A Cautionary TOD Tale

Everywhere we go we hear about transit-oriented development: bringing the home closer to the transit hub. Not only does TOD offer an opportunity to...

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...
The first community justice land trust tenants at Grace Townhomes. Photo courtesy of DHCD

Building Power for Community Control

Residents and institutions in a North Philadelphia neighborhood wanted to put the power of the land back into the hands of the community. The way we decided to do this was to create the Community Justice Land Trust and ensure neighborhood residents and tenants of CLT homes had seats on its board.
california construction site

California’s Endless Housing “Crisis”

In many ways, the recognition of the current “crisis” stems from middle- and upper-income Californians finally being impacted, and using their power to push for solutions that would address their situation. But their solutions ignore another population.

Who Dun It in the “American Murder Mystery?”

The Atlantic story on crime in Memphis (Tenn.) and Louisville (Ky.) by Hanna Rosin and her identifying “one of the most celebrated antipoverty programs...

Does Obama’s Plan Go Far Enough?

Barack Obama’s announcement this week outlining $75 billion in direct funding to help homeowners stay in their homes, and up to $200 billion designed...

Manufacturing Affordable Homeownership Solutions

It’s time to take factory-built homes seriously as affordable housing.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, speaking and holding a microphone.

Facebook Dips Its Toe Into Funding Housing

There was much speculation last year about whether and how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would enter the affordable housing space. We got our first peek today . . .

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...

Tainted Loans: Fighting Toxic Mortgages in the Courts

It's not too late to treat toxic loans as the defective product they are.

Sharing the Story of #Homelessness

I believe that a good story has the power to move people to action. That’s why, after...
Row of trailer homes with mountains in the background.

Duty to Serve: A Boon for Shared Equity Homeownership

Shared equity homeownership programs just had a big win.
Close up of an African-American Vietnam veteran with white beard standing in front of a bright blue walk, and holding his hand up to the left side of his face in an "L" shape.

How Can We End Homelessness?  Let’s Start—and Finish—With Veterans

We are so close to this goal. We should not change our focus before we meet it.

The Devils in the Details: Key Issues in Implementing the New AFFH Rule

For most of the Fair Housing Act’s history, its requirement to “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing” has been largely dormant....

A RADical Change for Public Housing?

Earler this month, we published an op-ed from HUD in which the authors declared the Rental Assistance Demonstration project a success, calling for a lifting of the cap on the number of units that could go through the process. The idea behind RAD is to address the massive backlog in capital improvements in public housing by […]

Three Takeaways from the President’s 2016 HUD Budget

Here are three key facts to understand the President’s 2016 budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its broader budget, policy, and political contexts: 1. The proposed funding increase is much more modest than it may initially appear. The President’s $41.0 billion HUD request for 2016 is $6.2 billion, or […]

Article Reveals Manufactured Housing Industry’s Greed

Earlier this month, the Center for Public Integrity and The Seattle Times released an investigative article examining the business...

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.
Photo credit: National Fair Housing Alliance

How Poorly Maintained Bank-owned Homes Harm Black and Latino Communities

Bank-seized properties in these communities of color have higher rates of neglect, and the situation has prompted a lawsuit.

Almost Home

Shortly after her 18th birthday, Cindy (not her real name) left her group home in the Bronx to live with her mother. Although under...
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...
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.

Racial Discrimination by Banks Only Worsens the Foreclosure Crisis

This is the first entry in a series based on the National Fair Housing Alliance report, “The Banks Are Back,...

Leaving Grandma Out in the Cold

The demise of the federal program that funded senior housing construction bodes ill for the increasing numbers of low-income seniors who struggle to afford a decent place to live.

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...

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...

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...
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.

Racial and Gender Diversity at the Top Is Good, But it Can’t Stop Greed

Last month Wells Fargo, the nation's largest home mortgage lender and fourth largest bank, agreed to pay at least $175 million to redress blatant...

American Nightmare

Homeowners under threat of foreclosure suffer a level of trauma that's largely invisible to most Americans, while professionals working to keep people in their homes are often overwhelmed by the complexity of the crisis.
A black and white photograph from 1942 of a sign that read "We want white tenants in our white community."

Just as I Suspected, Paying Rent Is Racist

Every month millions of Black Americans hand over half of our livelihood to the descendants of those who forcefully brought our ancestors here to work for free. Essentially, America is in the business of charging its captives rent.

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...

Shared Equity Homeownership for Geeks

I was proofreading our second installment of The Answer earlier this week, which happens to be on whether shared-equity homeownership builds...

Modifying the Modification Program (HAMP)

The administration last week announced changes to its Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) after falling short of its goals of staving off foreclosures by...

How Are Shared Equity Programs Growing With Public Investment?

In an era of dwindling affordable housing resources, communities are looking for ways to use what they have more efficiently. Advocates for shared equity homeownership programs have long argued that preserving long-term affordability helps public funding go further; in fact, new data shows that public funds invested in shared equity homes have been growing at […]
The Daley Center in downtown Chicago. It’s estimated that each year, more than 15,000 people in Cook County will get a public eviction record despite having no eviction order or judgment against them.

Eviction Filings Hurt Tenants, Even If They Win

From Monday through Friday, 52 weeks a year, thousands of tenants, landlords, and attorneys make their way to the Daley Center in downtown Chicago....
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.

Is the News on Homelessness Good or Bad?

So there's bad news and good news, it seems, on the topic of homelessness these past few months. ...

Effective Housing Reform Includes Loan Forgiveness

In April, when Ed DeMarco, the acting director of the FHFA, offered consummately ambiguous remarks during a Brookings Institute event,...

Housing Groups Should Expand to Repair Work to Help Seniors Age in Place

Before school Oliver used to collect baskets of wood that his father would sell. That was his way of...
Buildings composed of lottery tickets.

Four Simple Fixes for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing

For the past two years I’ve worked as a housing lottery project manager for a small affordable housing developer and have found that, in spite of De Blasio’s bold initiative, the program often fails to efficiently and adequately serve the very people for which it has been designed.

Could Kit Homes Make a Comeback?

It's interesting to look at housing trends from the past to try to find ideas on how to deal...

Charting a New Course in Portland

Portland, Ore., threw away the old rulebook when it crafted its Economic OpportunityInitiative, focusing on helping low-income people in innovative ways. Could it inspire a new national anti-poverty strategy?

San Francisco Wins Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Though we don't yet have funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, and housing didn't get the play we...
Men in topcoats and hats with rent increase protest signs.

Ask Yourself: Who Do Anti-Rent Control Policies Serve?

Whenever you hear (or read) anti-rent control arguments, ask the question: who benefits from banning rent control? And who is hurt?

A Non-Profit Housing Acquisition Program Could Protect The Displaced

In a recent post on my website, I wrote about the need for a new affordable housing policy—one that...

Some Forms of Displacement Are Beyond Criminal

Earlier this month, The New York Times published a major front-page story on deed theft scams that highlighted the...

The Promise and Challenges of Co-ops in a Hot Real Estate Market

The Clinton neighborhood, also known as Hell’s Kitchen, sits in the western middle of Manhattan. From the urban disinvestment of the 1960s through the...

Why We Must Build

We can’t build our way out of the housing crisis . . . but we won’t get out without building.

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...
A grey-colored apartment building in Oakland California.

Thoughts on the Unnatural Occurrence of Cheap Housing

There are two major issues with NOAH, better known as Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing. One is semantic, and one is practical.

Making a Profit on the Shards of a Glass Bubble

You’ve got to give the money-makers credit: when their giant, festering wound of an enterprise was pried open, cleansed with salt and rubbing alcohol,...

Is This What Gov. Cuomo Meant by ‘Stronger’ Rent Laws?

The latest battle of the Rent Wars has ended in Albany, and the kindest word that I could find to describe it from the...

Don’t Call Them Homeless Veterans

Opposition to housing for military veterans can be hard to fathom. But when it comes to our own neighborhoods, it seems many of us simply don’t want a military veteran living next door.

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,...

How Much Bailout Money Did Your Bank Get?

Here’s an informative resource assembled by The New York Times online that outlines the hundreds of banks, automakers, and insurers that have applied for...

7 Policies That Could Prevent Gentrification

The following are seven policy initiatives that could be part of a community stabilization agenda using smart growth and equitable investments to prevent or mitigate gentrification in Roxbury and other at-risk neighborhoods in Boston.

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.
Two men sit on a stoop with signs during a fair housing protest in Seattle, Washington, in 1964.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson and His Perverse Actions on Fair Housing

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, HUD Secretary Ben Carson is doing all he can to undermine its mission.
person holding Amazon delivery box

The Amazon Opportunity to Revitalize Urban Communities

It's not too late for cities competing to be the next home to Amazon to raise the issue of employer-assisted workforce housing.

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."

Do Urban Neighborhoods Need Homeowners?

At a conference I attended last week, one of the speakers, a colleague whose judgment and knowledge I respect, offered his take on the future of urban single family neighborhoods. The lower income families who have the credit and can get together the down payment to become homeowners are buying in the suburbs. People working […]

One Million Families At Risk

The dangers of Mark to Market and the needs for preserving expiring subsidized housing.

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...

The Potential for Affordability

The other day a genteel old six-bedroom house at the end of my street went up for auction. It...

Is the Housing Crisis Over in Rural America?

In 2008, the U.S. economy fell off a cliff. Depending on your perspective, it either slipped or was pushed from...

Battling Metropollyanna

Can’t find affordable housing where you live? Just move to wherever the housing is. Rural Americans have long been told...
courtroom

Absence of Eviction Court Recordings Leaves Tenants Vulnerable

In a court division where a family can lose their home after a two-minute trial and only 12 percent of tenants have lawyers, Cook County's lack of eviction court transcripts—with no court reporters or digital recording equipment since 2004—has serious repercussions for tenants.
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.

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...

Housing First, Or Housing Not-So-Fast?

Housing First, the model that says that homeless families need stable housing before they can address other problems in their...

Making HAMP Achievable

Despite now-stalled attempts by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to end a cocktail of foreclosure programs — Home Affordable Modification Program, Neighborhood Stabilization Program,...
The towering Co-op City in the Bronx, New York, the largest cooperative housing development in the world.

Bronx By Design: Why Beauty Matters

Great public buildings were once the centerpieces of their communities: they inspired, conferred a sense of dignity on the neighborhood and sent a message...

Preserving Affordable Housing by Buying, Not Building

Two organizations are quietly furthering income integration in higher-income Chicago neighborhoods without new development.

Strategic Default Can Make Sense, Right? Well, Not So Fast

Walking away from one’s mortgage, particularly a mortgage that is underwater, has increasingly become a viable option for homeowners who can no longer live...