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?

How Do You Respond? Section 8 and Crime

In 2008, a sensationalistic article in The Atlantic tried to draw a causal connection between tenants with housing assistance...

Maybe We Should Call Them Trailers

It is an article of faith among advocates for residents of manufactured housing that one of the most important things we can do to get over the stigma that this form of housing carries is to stop using the term “mobile homes” (they aren't really mobile) or “trailers/trailer parks” (ditto). Shelterforce has used “manufactured housing” […]
Public Housing building

It’s Time to Build New, Mixed-Income Public Housing

An interview with Ryan Cooper, co-author of the report (with Peter Gowan), Social Housing in the United States, about current approaches to government intervention in the rental market, the politics of home ownership, why public housing needs to be mixed-income, and envisioning a society that provides adequate, affordable housing to all of its citizens.

Forcing Banks to Buy Back Loans

On Tuesday, the Senate Banking Committee is slated to consider the administration’s nomination of Joseph A. Smith Jr., the commissioner of banks for North...

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 fenced lot on a city street.

Even Homer Nods: Paul Krugman Gets It Wrong on Housing

As the saying goes, even Homer nods. Paul Krugman must have been having an off day at the end of November 2015, when he...

The Ripple Effects of Having a Stable Home

“Homeownership increases a chance that a child will stay in school by up to 9 percent for low-income families,”...

Debt Strikes—Mortgage and Student

I wrote on Monday about ESOP's mortgage strikers. The concept made me think of the student debt strike efforts. ...

Implementing Vouchers for Veterans

A look at what HUD-VASH supportive housing vouchers can do, from the perspective of one of the agencies administering them.
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.

A New Kind of Redlining: Punishing Success

During the worst years of the Great American Mortgage Meltdown, shared equity homes represented an island of stability in a...

The Racial Wealth Gap and the Great Recession

In 2005, according to the U.S. Census Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the median Asian American household...

Does Screening for Eviction Records Violate the Fair Housing Act?

We tend to think of the Fair Housing Act as covering access to housing—getting “into” housing. But it also applies to staying in...
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.

Early Funding is Worth its Weight in Gold

Developing affordable rental housing these days is a lot like putting together a puzzle – when the financing pieces...
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?
A concept piece of scales, on on side, a hand is shown placing money, on the other side, a home raises.

Affordability: The 30 Percent Standard’s Blinders

Using a simple cost-to-income ratio to measure affordability doesn’t give us a good picture of who is really burdened by housing cost. We need a different approach.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

Interview with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

Plucked from New York City's Department of Housing Preservation & Development, Shaun Donovan is leading the effort to make the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development into a relevant, powerful agency.

The Road to PETRA

From the early days of the public housing program in the 1930s to the present, vociferous opposition has resulted in a host of problems. Understanding the history can help put President Obama's PETRA program in context.
dilapidated home

Bringing “Zombies” Back to Life

With funds from a settlement between the New York State Attorney General and major banks, 76 New York state municipalities are working to get abandoned and deteriorating homes back into productive use.

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...
voters in booths

Dear Presidential Hopefuls: The People Want to Talk to You About Housing

Before we celebrate its resurgence as a national political issue, and certainly before we set out to solve for housing injustice, we should understand why America has overlooked housing.

Affordable Housing as an “Unfunded Mandate”

Sorry to keep the focus on New Jersey, folks, but if you are a long-time Rooflines reader, you’ll know that I will, once again,...

Best of Both Worlds

Permanent affordability and asset building might seem at first blush to be contradictory goals for a low-income homeownership program, but new research says in fact they can be achieved together.

Reverse Redlining Suits Proceed

Last year, Ray Brescia wrote in Shelterforce about the potential for lawsuits against banks that engaged in predatory lending or reverse redlining, based on...

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...
Eastern Market food advertisement banners on old buildings in downtown Detriot.

Inclusionary Housing in Soft or Mixed Markets

The time to strike isn’t when the iron is hot. Cities in soft or mixed markets should adopt inclusionary housing policies before the housing market heats up and the process becomes even more challenging.

“Political Lift”: An Interview with Rep. Keith Ellison

As we head into the election home stretch, pieces of Rep. Keith Ellison's interview with Shelterforce in our latest issue keep coming to mind. Ellison...

El Caño Vive, La Lucha Sigue! Community-Controlled Land in Puerto Rico

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. elections, communities throughout the United States began experiencing a new wave of civic participation, organizing, and activism....

Fair Housing is NOT War on the Suburbs

The Obama administration’s revised Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule has recently come under fire—again—by the new administration. Attacks on the rule have been...
Row of trailer homes with mountains in the background.

A Policy Agenda for Manufactured Home Owners

In Minnesota, ten mobile home communities have closed in the past twenty-five years, and no new ones have opened. This uncertainty affects nearly 3 million Americans who are residents in the nation’s 50,000 manufactured housing communities. While most of these homeowners own their own homes, they rent the land, leaving them vulnerable to dramatic rent increases, arbitrary rules, and even eviction.

Why We Must Build

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

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 […]

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 Gabriel Metcalf, author of Democratic by Design

Gabriel Metcalf is president and CEO of SPUR, a nonprofit membership organization that promotes good planning and good government through research, education and advocacy....

Report: Falling Home Values, Rising Housing Costs

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...

Make Lemonade from the Current Housing Crisis

When life serves you lemons, make lemonade. That seems to be the adage the Prince William County authorities are following with regard to the...

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...

AGs Inch Closer to Foreclosure Deal

A $26 billion robosigning settlement between states and the nation's largest banks could be announced as early as Thursday, according...
sign defining "gentrification"

Say It Loud: Renters’ Rights are Civil Rights!

Private developers and public agencies are finally investing in neighborhoods near transit and jobs—where many low-income communities of color have lived for generations—and as a result, are being pushed out just as resources in their neighborhoods are increasing.

Gloomy Outlook for Nonprofits

It’s going to be a while before we begin hearing some good economic news, particularly as the current economic landscape reverberates within the non-profit...

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...

Former Foes Join to Defend NJ’s Housing Trust Funds

Injustice can create unlikely collaborators. In early 2012, New Jersey’s Governor Christie set out to cover state budget gaps with...

Affordable Housing Preservation of the Past and How It Can be Relearned

Over a quarter century ago, affordable housing advocates, housing providers, and public officials began to fully recognize a potential...

Interview with Richard Baron, CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar

It still surprises many people that Richard Baron, the CEO of one of the largest for-profit affordable housing developers, got his start in the field supporting public housing tenants in a rent strike.

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...

An Open Letter To The Candidates: We Need Housing Solutions

Last week, a coalition of housing, civil rights, and consumer protection groups issued an open letter to President Obama and...

Sh*t NY Slumlords Say

The folks at the SurRealEstate blog (the organizing and policy department of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board) poked some fun...

The Housing Recovery: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

The housing market is coming back. Finally, after listening to false hopes and promises for the last few years,...
North Minneapolis tenants pose together with their fists in the air during a barbecue

Despite Win Against Landlord, Minneapolis Tenants Still Face Eviction

North Minneapolis residents fight to take control of their buildings after city administrator finds homes to be uninhabitable.

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.

Organizing and the Community Land Trust Model

What happens when organizers win a campaign for community control of land? That depends a lot on the choices they make about how to exercise that control.

The Linchpin of a Just Housing System

A vision is rooted in the belief that housing is a human right, not a commodity to maximize profit. Homes For All believes it is possible to create a just housing system in which everyone has affordable and dignified housing.

Donovan Eyes Change to Mortgage Credit System; Bringing HUD to the Forefront

WASHINGTON, DC — HUD chief Shaun Donovan yesterday championed an overhaul of the existing infrastructure of the mortgage finance and economic system in allowing...

Single Point of Contact Won

Having a “single point of contact” for borrowers has been a repeated theme among those advocating for reform of HAMP, such as Sen. Jeff...

Eminent Domain to Address the Housing Crisis?

Last month MSNBC reported on a partnership between Mortgage Resolution Partners (MRP) and several California local governments that would help...
Mesa 5 cooperative members explain how the housing complex’s services and maintenance work.

Solutions to an Unjust Housing System

Four scalable land and housing models can provide justice, and homes, for our communities. But we need support to protect them from market pressure.
Book cover show a black and white photo of people gathered in front of a high rise building

Public Housing Residents as Activists

In the 1990s, a group I co-founded, the Eviction Defense Network, was asked by public housing residents to organize alongside them during the HOPE...

Subprime and the Myth of Increasing Homeownership

Alyssa Katz notes that a couple analyses show that the increase in foreclosures caused by subprime mortgages more than outweighed the new first-time homeowners...
Three women sitting on chairs on a sidewalk.

Hurricane Evacuees are Forcibly Evicted in Miami

More than 60 Miami families, many undocumented, have been homeless since last week’s hurricane and were forcibly removed last night by local officials.

HUD Announces Diaster Assistance

HUD has announced disaster assistance for those affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. ...

Housing Policies in America: What’s Helping, What’s Hurting

As many advocates know, on Jan. 30, the Corporation for Enterprise Development released its 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard,...
senator elizabeth warren

Can Housers Unite Around the Warren Proposal?

Every once in a while someone says: "What would it look like if we came together and were united on a federal policy for housing?" It seems like the answer to "who would actually do it?" might currently be Senator Elizabeth Warren.

My House Is Worth What?!

The appraisal industry has a long, sordid history of discrimination, and bias still creeps into almost every step of the property assessment process today....

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...

Should Online Shopping Change How We Use Space?

Should ground-floor use go from retail to housing? In San Francisco, the closing of once-popular San Francisco restaurants and the decline of...

The Lifecycle of Predatory Equity

The New York City Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) has a new report out that examines the “lifecycle” of predatory...

Say What, Washington Post? Declining Homeownership Rates Aren’t a Good Thing

On Aug. 3, The Washington Post published a remarkable opinion piece by Charles Lane, one of the paper’s editorial...

Mortgage Strike!

Shelterforce began as a tenants' rights newspaper, and our early years were full of accounts of rent strikes—a powerful weapon...

Segregation Conversation Goes National

The conversation about balancing placed-based revitalization and expanding access to high-opportunity areas has been edging onto the national radar...
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.

Honor Thy Mortgage!

Thinking about walking away from your mortgage because of your underwater mortgage? Stephen Colbert, in his inimitable way, tells us to think again, and...

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 man in camouflage jacket an hat talks at a table with a man in a suit, with a Volunteers of America banner on the wall behind them.

One Mission, One Stop for Veterans in Denver

Service providers come together around an ambitious goal to end veteran homelessness in the Denver metro area.

Capital Markets & Neighborhood Stabilization

The articles in this issue depart from our usual stomping grounds a bit to look at capital markets and how they are partnering or might partner with community developers. Here's how we came to be consorting with private equity firms and their kin.

Matthew Desmond’s “Evicted” Supports, Challenges Housing Field

With Evicted, Desmond is taking a powerful argument that housing matters beyond the usually circles where that is discussed.
Key in a lock

These Changes to Tax Credit Criteria Are Breaking Up Concentrated Poverty

A recent examination by New Jersey Future has found that strategic changes in the way federal funds are allocated for affordable housing in the state have meant that many more affordable housing projects have been directed away from high-poverty neighborhoods and toward areas that offer greater economic opportunity.

Housing and The “Flyover” Mentality

Right around the New Year, an article by Wired’s Emily Dreyfuss popped up on one of my newsfeeds titled,...
Three members of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California give a thumbs up as they hold "Register and Vote" signs in different languages.

How the Bay Area Got $2 Billion for Affordable Homes

San Francisco Bay Area voters approved bold new investments in 2016 after housing advocates--part of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California--ignited a successful electoral strategy for the general election. Here's how it worked.

Homeowner, Meet Your Lender

The reconciliation that takes place Thursday mornings at Philadelphia City Hall is not some attempt to further prove that Philadelphia is the City of...

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...

A Bipartisan Look at Demographics that Drive Housing Demand

Earlier this week the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released its Housing Commission Report: Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy.  As an advisor...

Keeping Houses Occupied

Most of the problems foreclosed properties cause come because they tend to become vacant and stay vacant for a while. Often a homeowner flees...

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 Obama Housing Plan: Bold and Sensible, But Gaps Remain

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...
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.
Apartment building in Virginia under construction.

When Affordable Housing Meets Free-Market Fantasy

Because affordable housing doesn’t yield acceptable profits to real estate investors, the only way a substantial amount of it is going to get built is if it’s publicly funded.

Back in a Bubble?

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

Is DC Really Affordable?

 I'm glad to see I'm not the only one thinking about the limits of the “30 percent of your...
storefront

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—May 11

Democrat’s Housing Proposal | Tracking SNAP Recipients Is a Bad Idea | Including Antiracism Practices Into The Housing First Model | An Asylum-Seeker Game? | Mick, Can We Rate You?
The now vacated Robert Mueller Municipal Airport in Austin, Texas. An old sign pointed to the direction for arrival pick-up in the foreground while an old tower stands in the back.

What If We Didn’t Have to Beg for Community Benefits?

Perhaps publicly owned land should be developed for the community first—and market-rate developers should be asking us for access to part of it.

The Stunning Inequality Overlooked in the Nation’s “Housing Recovery”

This piece has been excerpted from “What is Mel Watt Waiting For?“ originally published on Huffington Post.—-Mel Watt, the...

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.”...

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...

An Unfinished Agenda

Why it's time for fair housing and community development to reunite to fight the vestiges of segregation.

NLIHC Report: Rental Homes Remain Out of Reach

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...
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.

Small Cities: Stepchildren No Longer

What do you know about New Bedford, Altoona, or Terre Haute? Should we figure that big-city revitalization work will just trickle down to these...

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...

Should FHFA’s REO-to-Rental Pilot Program Address Affordability?

Recently the National Low Income Housing Coaltion, as part of a blog series looking at discrimination in the marketing and maintenance...