Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":

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Sweeping East Harlem rezoning greenlights a wave of new development

After rounds of contentious public hearings and protests from those on both sides of the debate, the New York City Council unanimously approved a wide-ranging rezoning for the East Harlem neighborhood on November 30th, as well as the 750,000-square foot, mixed-use Sendero Verde development. The latest rezoning plan covers a 96-block area from East 106th Street to East 138th Street and is meant to address the looming affordable housing crisis facing the neighborhood. Proponents of the move have said that East Harlem, where half of all residents are rent-burdened, or spend more than one-third of their income on rent, will lose 200 to 500 units of affordable housing per year without intervention. Officials from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development have argued that, by allowing higher density development, mandatory inclusionary housing requirements will be triggered and necessitate that 20 to 25 percent of the units in new developments will be affordable. After Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Viverito formed a neighborhood plan in 2015 that laid out what the community wanted out of a potential rezoning, neighborhood groups and Community Board 11 later pushed back after they felt their recommendations had been ignored. A new deal, struck by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio before the final vote, now caps building heights at a maximum of 325 feet along the neighborhood’s transit corridors, to limit density and address pushback from East Harlem residents. Other than the new development limits, city officials included a $222 million investment into improving the lives of current residents, including a $50 million concession for New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) East Harlem buildings and $102 million for a new public park between East 125th Street and East 132nd Street. Still, some residents feel that the new deal doesn’t hew closely enough to the Neighborhood Plan, that the city should have taken rent-stabilized buildings out of the rezoning area, and that the definition of “affordable housing” will need to be more reflective of a neighborhood with a median income of $30,000 a year. Also on the City Council’s docket was the approval of the Handel Architects-designed Sendero Verde project, a 680-unit, fully affordable mixed-use development built to passive house standards. Anticipating that the rezoning would pass, Sendero Verde will occupy an entire block, from East 111th to 112th Street, between Park and Madison avenues. Although the development will replace four existing community gardens, it also includes a DREAM charter school, grocery store, YMCA, restaurant, and Mount Sinai-run health facility. East Harlem is already changing rapidly, with several new projects from well-known studios, such as Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG) Gotham East 126th Residential having broken ground in recent months. The full, finalized list of changes made to the East Harlem rezoning plan can be read here.
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Developer may tear down Jane Jacobs’ West Village Houses

A housing development in Manhattan that was designed with the help of noted urbanist Jane Jacobs is threatened with demolition. New York-based developer Madison Equities has offered to purchase the West Village Houses, a low-rise development in the West Village containing 420 coop apartments, and wants to tear down all or part of them and replace them with high-rise housing, according to residents and preservationists familiar with the proposal. Bounded by Bank, Morton, Washington and West streets, the development consists of 42 five-story walkup buildings connected by gardens and other common areas. It was planned with Jacobs’ help in the 1960s, and designed by Perkins + Will. The first residences were completed in 1974. Madison Equities made the unsolicited proposal to redevelop the community this fall, and residents have been holding meetings this month to decide how to respond to it. The community’s board of directors has surveyed residents about the proposal and indicated it will seek competing offers before making any decisions. “We find ourselves horrified that such a proposal would be put forward,” one group of residents said in a statement. “We wonder why anyone would want to destroy the fruits of Jane Jacobs’ dream. We know that we have the greatest luxury of all, right here, right now; the luxury of living in the world Jane Jacobs imagined.” Jeffrey Lydon, an architect who specializes in preservation and a former board member who has lived at the West Village Houses for 35 years, said, “This is an enormously successful community. It’s been a great incubator for families, a great investment for people, and a great demonstration of what Jane Jacobs was talking about.” According to Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, “It’s the only development that [Jacobs] had a hand in designing. That gives it significance that extends far beyond Greenwich Village.” What distinguishes them is their site planning, which was oriented towards “simple, low-scale buildings with communal space rather than the high-rise options that were considered de rigueur at the time.” The plain brown brick buildings were constructed under the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing subsidy program. In 2002, the owners of the complex announced they were opting out of the program, and many residents faced enormous rent increases. A conversion to cooperative housing was completed in 2006, enabling most of the residents to remain either as owners or renters. Building high-rises on that site would be the “greatest disgrace to what Jane Jacobs wanted,” said architectural historian Francis Morrone. Morrone acknowledged that the buildings themselves are not great architecture, due to a tight budget intended to keep costs down.  “It’s only a very pale reflection of what she had in mind.” What’s significant, Morrone said, is that Jacobs and the other planners were concerned about how the West Village Houses embody “a model for housing in the West Village.” He added, “The scale and color of the materials help that area of the Village keep the character it has.” Madison Equities’ offer comes one year after urbanists around the world celebrated the centennial of Jacob’s birth, on May 4, 1916. Despite their connection to Jacobs, the Houses are not protected by local landmark designation. The development was left out of the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension as designated by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2006. Madison Equities declined to discuss the company’s offer. An overview of the proposal released by the community’s board of directors states that Madison Equities has promised guaranteed sale prices for those wishing to sell, and luxury amenities for those wishing to stay. It calls for the residents who wish to stay to move out of their residences while construction is underway, and then move into the new high-rise housing. “The fact is, 1,000 people live there, roughly speaking, and 1,000 lives are at stake,” said Robert Kanigel, author of Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs, published last year. “It’s set against the pattern of Manhattan becoming unaffordable for the middle class, and that’s one of the things Jane Jacobs tried to address.” With the expiration of a community-wide tax abatement slated for March 2018, residents have been looking for solutions to keep the apartments affordable.  They say they fear they won’t be able to afford the high real estate taxes the now-sought-after neighborhood commandsResidents say they’ve tried to get help from the Mayor’s office and state legislators, but no solutions are forthcoming. They also referred to a 20-year plan suggested by the city’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development that would limit sale options for owners, but many owners in their sixties and seventies expressed reservations about it. The Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, did not respond to a request for information. A plan to sell a parking garage the coop owns in order to preserve affordability, put forward by a previous board of directors, is currently still theoretically open for a vote by the owners. But that vote is now being discouraged by the current board members while they decide how to respond to the developer’s offer, say opponents of the demolition plan. Berman said the current “contextual zoning” for the community allows buildings to rise no more than 60 to 65 feet along the street wall and 80 feet within the block, so any proposal for high-rises would require rezoning approval from the city before construction could begin. He said his organization would prefer to see the existing buildings remain and the residents not displaced. Ultimately, he said, “it is our hope that we will be able to find a solution that preserves as much as possible of the original design and the affordability.”
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NYC approves controversial Bedford-Union Armory plan

Today the New York City Council voted to approve a controversial redevelopment plan for Brooklyn's Bedford-Union Armory. The plan, Bedford Courts, proposes revamping the vacant, city-owned armory with a 67,000-square-foot recreation hall, 330 rental apartments and 60 condominiums. The recreational facilities would include multi-purpose courts, a swimming pool, and an indoor turf field.The project still must be approved by the Mayor's Office before it can begin development. The project is designed by Marvel Architects, with Bedford Courts LLC and BFC Partners as the plan developers. CAMBA, a local non-profit, will manage the recreational facility and administer the initial affordable housing program. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will administer leases and provide project oversight. The New York City Housing Preservation and Development agency (NYCPHD) will serve as an advisor to NYCEDC and Bedford Courts on affordable housing and regulate the affordable housing program after construction, taking over CAMBA's responsibilities. Although 50 percent of the rental units and 20 percent of condos would be made affordable, the plan's opponents have argued it does not include nearly enough affordable housing, given rising rents and the potential for displacement as Crown Heights gentrifies. City Planning Commission member Michelle de la Uz told DNAinfo"Given that this is publicly owned land, the community has come to expect more." When the City Planning Commission greenlit the plan on Monday, de la Uz was the only Commission member to vote against it. Monday's decision was also met with public opposition, with protesters gathered outside and within City Hall. Two demonstrators were arrested at the meeting.
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Here’s the first big affordable housing complex slated for East New York

Today the City Planning Commission (CPC) heard development updates from East New York, the first city neighborhood to be completely rezoned under comprehensive affordable housing rules passed in 2015. To achieve the goals of the rezoning, the East New York Neighborhood Plan was approved in April 2016, and now, a year and a half later, there are 1,000 affordable units in the pipeline, plus an 1,000-seat school, and safety-in-mind streetscape improvements along major thoroughfares like Atlantic Avenue to link new developments together. The rezoned area spans 190 square blocks and is the first to apply Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), a suite of rules that require a certain percentage of housing be designated as permanently affordable. In addition to building affordable housing, the East New York plan aims to preserve existing affordable units, while offering legal services to tenants, providing support to homeowners at risk of displacement, and transitioning families in the shelter system into local permanent housing. As far as new construction goes, the city estimates that 6,000 units of affordable housing will be built over the next 15 years. The latest—and largest—of these developments is Chestnut Commons, a 274-unit complex by Dattner Architects on a vacant city-owned site on Atlantic Avenue, near busy Conduit Boulevard. In the affordable housing world, Dattner is best known for Via Verde, an ecological housing complex in the South Bronx it completed with Grimshaw in 2012. Here, the New York City firm is kitting out a 300,000-square-foot complex, called Chestnut Commons, with solar panels, specially-glazed windows, natural lighting, and other design features from the passive house movement that improve building performance by minimizing solar heat gain and thermal bridging. In addition to shared roof terraces for tenants, amenities will include a black box theater operated by a local arts nonprofit, a kitchen incubator for jobs training, and a CUNY Kingsborough satellite campus. The ground floor of the 14-story building will sport retail spaces, and new streetscaping will connect the complex to a cleaned-up Atlantic Avenue corridor (map). The apartments will be geared towards families, though there's no word yet on the units' sizes. At the CPC meeting today, though, a representative from the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) confirmed the development will be 100 percent affordable. Half of the units at Chestnut Commons will be available to households making 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $51,540 for a family of three. After that, 15 percent of the units will be open to families making 30 percent of the AMI, 20 percent of the units will go to households at 40 AMI, and 15 percent will be available to those at 50 AMI. HPD is working with MHANY Management, the Urban Builders Collaborative, and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC) to develop the project. The levels of affordability were a major point of contention when the neighborhood plan was passed last year. According to a 2015 report from Comptroller Scott M. Stringer's office, more than half of the affordable units to be developed under the neighborhood plan are too pricey for current residents. (The mayor's office disputed the findings.) Last year, the city confirmed that any HPD-sponsored project in East New York will be 100 percent affordable to families earning between 30 and 90 percent of the AMI.
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AECOM wants to add 36,000 housing units around the L.A. River

AECOM has a bold, transformational vision for the areas immediately surrounding the Los Angeles River in Downtown Los Angeles. The firm’s recently-published Los Angeles River Gateway proposal envisions a dense web of newly interconnected neighborhoods and recreational areas surrounding a four-mile stretch of the river between Elysian Park and the Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Arts District, and Civic Center neighborhoods. The plan calls for nearly 300 acres of publicly-accessible riparian areas surrounding the river. Those recreational and flood-control areas would be joined, according to the plan, by 36,620 residential units, including at least 7,874 affordable homes. The plan calls for making 100 percent of the riverfront areas accessible to the public by absorbing the surrounding industrially-zoned lands and converting those parcels to park areas. The unsolicited study seeks to join “the city with [the] river and nature” by physically connecting the neighborhoods surrounded by the L.A. River with the river itself. It also works within the confines of existing neighborhood plans and leans on already-approved proposals to paint – not a radical vision for the future – but something more akin to a visualization of what the built-out area might eventually look like under current plans. AECOM proposes a series of approaches for bridging over privately- and publicly-owned rail yards surrounding the river’s banks on either side, including plans for underground tunnels that would serve high-speed rail, public transit, and private freight trains. Other potential options include the erection of an elevated trestle system for trains that would allow pedestrians to walk below the tracks and a fill-and-mound system of terraforming to span over the tracks. The River Gateway proposal also calls for adding nearly 150,000 jobs to the area, a 200% increase over the existing number of jobs currently contained within the study areas, according to the authors. Under the plan, 97% of the area’s jobs would be located within a 10-minute walk from the handful of existing and forthcoming light rail stops that serve the area. Renderings for the scheme depict sweeping, tree-filled vistas of the areas surrounding the river, with the areas around Union Station particularly transformed by new structures. The renderings show the City’s brutalist Piper Tech records and police facility being replaced by mixed-use housing towers, for example. Low- to mid-rise apartment blocks would flank the riverbanks on both sides and ultimately bleed into realized visions projected under the new Civic Center Master Plan. The Los Angeles River Gateway plan calls for a 40-year implementation schedule, with many of the improvements either begun or partially completed in time for the 2028 Olympic Games. Under the plan, the downtown section of the L.A. River would act as a “gateway” for Olympics visitors. A full version of AECOM’s proposal can be found here.
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Affordable housing coming to Denver’s booming River North neighborhood

Denver, Colorado–based affordable housing developers Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) and Medici Consulting Group (MCG) recently revealed plans to move forward on a project that aims to establish a transit-oriented development at the heart of the city’s booming River North Art District (RiNo) neighborhood. The so-called Walnut Street Lofts—an architect for the project has not been announced—would bring 65 affordable housing units pegged for residents making between 30- and 60-percent of the area’s median income. When the development comes online in 2019, it is expected to provide affordable rents, with one-bedroom units going for roughly $400 per month and three-bedroom apartments running up to $1,200 per month. The 1.5-acre site for the project was purchased by ULC in 2011 as part of the developer’s long-term land-banking strategy, which entails purchasing cheap land in gentrifying Denver neighborhoods as a means of embedding affordable housing in growing areas. When the non-profit acquired the Walnut Street Lofts parcel in 2011, for example, the lot came out to a sale price of about $30 per square foot, a bargain considering a site nearby recently sold for roughly $200 per square foot, the Denver Post reports. For the project, ULC sold the development rights to the land to MCG but will retain ownership of the land via an automatically-renewing 99-year ground lease. The complex, according to a rendering released by the developers, features simple, rectilinear massing with punched openings with operable window assemblies. The complex will also feature ground floor retail spaces and is laid out with a central courtyard. The project will benefit from funding provided by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, which awarded Medici $1,198,115 in low-income housing tax credits to help finance the estimated $17 million project. The project also received funding from Colorado-based development firm McWinney, which chipped in $1.5 million in funding as part of a deal to win a density bonus for a development located on a nearby parcel. The Walnut Street Lofts are expected to break ground in late 2018 and will be completed in 2019.
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California moves to relieve housing crisis with key legislative wins

Several bills aimed at alleviating California’s persistent and worsening housing affordability crisis advanced through the state legislature late last night, re-igniting the state’s housing activists and raising hopes that housing relief is on the way. The six initiatives address different facets of the crisis, but have been seen as a collective success and an initial step toward more full-fledged efforts by the state to rein in skyrocketing rents and reverse the housing shortage. The California State Assembly passed Senate Bill 2 (SB 2)—the most controversial of the batch—a proposal that adds $75 to a $225 fee to mortgage refinances and other real estate transactions, excluding home and commercial property sales. The fee is projected to raise $250 million per year for low-income affordable housing, and provide a permanent and consistent funding source to rehabilitate and expand that market, the Los Angeles Times reported. When matched with federal, local, and private funds, it is estimated that the fee could raise over $5 billion for such housing over the next five years, according to The Mercury News. Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), also passed Thursday night, paves the way for a $4 billion bond designed to finance low-income housing development and provide mortgages to military veterans to go onto the 2018 statewide ballot. Providing housing for formerly-homeless veterans has been a particular focus of ongoing housing efforts across the state. Senate Bill 35 (SB 35) would streamline the approval of housing development, requiring cities and counties to develop land use plans that include a housing element and hold municipalities accountable to those figures. Senate Bill 166 would also pressure municipalities to meet their housing goals while also forbidding them from lowering residential density in their respective zoning codes to reduce the overall number of required units. Senate Bill 167 would strengthen the state's Housing Accountability Act—which compels municipalities to approve low-income housing projects, among other types of housing—by fining municipalities automatic fines of $10,000 per unit of unbuilt housing resulting from their violation of the act. Various municipalities around the Bay Area have caused controversy in recent years for violating the act, which in turn, has resulted in lawsuits from housing activists. Senate Bill 540 incentivizes “workforce housing opportunity zones” by allowing municipalities to adopt specific plans for local areas that are particularly in need of housing. The bill would streamline redevelopment efforts, especially in relation to California Environmental Quality Act approvals. Both SB 2 and SB 3 cleared the California State Senate earlier this year; those bills and the four additional measures will head back to that chamber for final approval today before being sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Brown has until October 15th to veto or sign the bills.
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First phase of Atlanta BeltLine’s reservoir and green space slated for 2019 opening

Last week, the City of Atlanta announced that the first phase of the Atlanta BeltLine's keystone project – a 400-foot deep former granite quarry proposed as a new reservoir and public greenspace – will open to the public in 2019. The Atlanta Beltline is a ring of former railways around the southern capital that is being redeveloped into a 22-mile ribbon of parkway that will eventually connect 45 neighborhoods. It is the single largest economic development project the city has ever undertaken. The Bellwood Quarry itself is an impressive site at a monumental scale, and has been featured in shows and movies like The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, and The Hunger Games.  The re-use of the quarry and parkland surrounding it, spanning 280 acres, is no small task. In partnership with the BeltLine, the Department of Watershed Management has drained the mineral pit of its standing water and is now boring a massive mile-long tunnel connecting it to the Chattahoochee River, with the end goal of providing Atlanta with 30 days of reservoir water rather than its current 5-day supply. Although the quarry is closed to the public for construction, it seems to be proceeding at a clip, and this announcement may be a hint that the process is being expedited in line with the end of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's term in November. After all, the quarry is a highly-anticipated legacy project. The RFP for design proposals for the park surrounding the reservoir closed yesterday after opening in late July. According to an anonymous source close to the project, the first phase of the Westside Reservoir Park will likely be a smaller prototype park on a small fraction of the total property, meant to garner public enthusiasm and draw investment while the larger reservoir project undergoes construction. Whether this pocket park will be completed by 2019 is a matter of skepticism within the organization, according to AN's source. One factor complicating matters is a recent shakedown in leadership: Paul Morris, the former CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., stepped down three weeks ago after a heated public controversy surrounding the organization's shaky commitment to affordable housing in new development around the park. However, Morris' replacement, Brian McGowan, brings a hefty amount of experience in civic and economic development to the seat, having formerly served as the Executive Vice President of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, CEO of Invest Atlanta, and is now leaving a position as a Principal at international law firm Dentons. Whether the first chapter of Bellwood Quarry's extensive refurbishment will be open to the public by 2019 or not, the BeltLine and its partners have, at least for the time being, redirected public attention away from what's sure to be a long and drawn-out debate about what the BeltLine – with all its ecological, recreational, and economic benefits – will mean for surrounding neighborhoods in the long term. This is not a question limited to the BeltLine. Hopefully the project will spur lawmakers to push for more affordable housing than is currently proposed by ABI, which now works in tandem with the Atlanta Housing Authority. For the scale of the project – which circles the entirety of Metro Atlanta with a population of 5.7 million – 5,600 affordable units seems like a low bar.
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Chicago pilots program to stem gentrification on North and West Sides

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced a new pilot program to encourage affordable housing in the city’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. The program would focus on areas on the Near North and Near West sides, and along Milwaukee Avenue corridor. Since the dismantling of much of the city’s public housing throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, Chicago has heavily relied upon private development to fulfill affordable housing needs. To guide this the city passed the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), which sets rules for new developments over 10 units or that receive zoning changes. The current iteration of the ordinance requires that 10 percent of units in qualifying developments must be affordable, or the developer can pay in-lieu fees up to $225,000. The new pilot program would target particular neighborhoods which have shown signs of rapid gentrification. These include 9 miles along Milwaukee Avenue, incorporating parts of Logan Square, Avendale, West Town, and areas along the Green Line. The goal is to create 1,000 new affordable units over the next three years. To do this, the program proposes to raise the required affordable unit obligation from 10 percent to 15 or 20 percent depending on location. The in-lieu fee option would also be eliminated, forcing developers to build affordable units instead of paying to get out of the obligation. Lastly, the pool of eligible tenants would be expanded by increasing the threshold to 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI), 20 percent above the current threshold. “Access to affordable housing is critical to Chicago’s legacy as one of the world’s most livable big cities, especially as the real estate market undergoes unprecedented neighborhood development,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This initiative will create more affordable units in targeted areas while helping the city to assess the most effective ways of meeting neighborhood affordable housing goals.” If passed by the city council, the program will affect some of the fastest developing areas in the city. Both the Near North and Near West Sides have seen rapid growth, particularly around transit nodes. Thanks to a 2015 Transit-Oriented Development Ordinance, developers have been able to build large residential blocks with few or no parking spaces near major transit lines. The result has been a building boom, which many argue has exacerbated the gentrification in neighborhoods across the city.
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Abandoned NYC hospital to be redeveloped as affordable housing

Hoping to bolster its stock of affordable housing, New York City last week issued an RFEI (Request for Expressions of Interest) to redevelop the long-abandoned Greenpoint Hospital in Brooklyn into 500 supportive and affordable apartments. The 146,100-square-foot complex includes three buildings and open land that have been sitting empty since 1983. “It makes no sense in a community desperate for affordable housing that that prime site has been sitting here all this time," Mayor Bill de Blasio told a local town hall, according to DNAinfo. Brick structures on the site were built between 1915 and 1930. One is being used as a homeless shelter and the other was recently taken over by squatters. According to the RFEI, plans for the site need to consider its historic character, repurposing materials and the historic facades. However developers will be able to demolish one or more of the buildings “based upon highest level of feasibility.” A previous plan for redevelopment was halted in 2012 when the developer was indicted on bribery charges. De Blasio, who released his Housing New York plan shortly after taking office, has promised to add or preserve more than 200,000 affordable housing units in the city within ten years. “When more than 50,000 New Yorkers sleep in homeless shelters and hundreds of thousands more struggle to pay high rents with meager earnings, the City fails to live up to its promise of opportunity,” noted the report. The city recently reported that it has financed 77,651 affordable homes since January, 2014, putting it “ahead of schedule” to reach its goal.
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HUD report reveals housing affordability crisis unfolding across America

The nationwide affordable housing crisis is nearing a record high: More than 8 million renters in 2015 had "worst case housing needs," according to a report released last week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Very low-income, unassisted families who pay more than half their monthly income for rent and/or live in severely substandard housing are labeled as worst case needs residents. The Worst Case Housing Needs: 2017 Report to Congress reveals that in 2015, 8.3 million households had worst case needs, a 66 percent spike since 2001 and a number approaching the record high of 8.48 million in 2011.

According to the report, cases “cut across all regions of the county and include all racial and ethnic groups, regardless of whether they live in cities, suburbs, or rural areas.”

Most of the nation’s very low-income renters—those who earn less than 50 percent of Area Median Income—reside in the South (6.7 million), followed by the West (4.5 million). The areas with the highest concentrations of worst case households among very low-income renters, however, were in major urban areas: the New York metropolitan area, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and the Chicago metropolitan area.

HUD's report revealed that while ongoing economic recovery will help increase incomes for very low-income renters, other factors continue to drive the affordable housing crisis. The report cites severe rent burden—those paying more than 50 percent of their income towards monthly rent—as one of the primary factors. Out of the households with worst case needs in 2015, 98.2% had severe rent burden.

The other main cause includes a scarcity of units with affordable rents. Despite an increase in overall rental units and in median renter’s income over the past two years, monthly rents also increased and the shortage of affordable and available units for this population became more severe. For the poorest renters, rent hikes outpace income increases, according to the report.

Nationwide, only 66 affordable units exist for every 100 extremely low-income renters, and of that, only 38 are available for occupancy.

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Oregon bill would encourage new affordable housing but has preservationists up in arms

A controversial bill under consideration that seeks to impose a 100-day limit on reviews for housing developments containing affordable units is currently up for debate in Oregon.

The far-reaching bill, known as HB 2007, would require cities and counties in the state to not only “review and decide on applications for certain housing developments containing affordable housing units within 100 days,” but would also limit local municipalities’ abilities to preclude these housing developments via future national historic district designations. Furthermore, the bill would also limit municipalities’ abilities to require lower development densities in some zoning areas, declare a housing emergency in the state, allow houses of worship to develop affordable housing on their properties, and prohibit municipalities from prohibiting accessory dwelling units or duplexes on lots zoned for single-family use. The measure, which is endorsed by the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Portland and 1000 Friends of Oregon, has been condemned as a handout to real estate and development interests by preservationists. Because the bill would impose limits on the influence of local historic districts, many in the preservation community see the bill as a wide-ranging and existential threat to the state’s historic fabric. The pro-preservation group Restore Oregon contends the bill is based on “false premises” and has offered a set of amendments to the bill, including adding language to the measure to increase incentives aimed at curbing market-rate development, adding disincentives to the bill that would limit the demolition of modestly-priced existing units, and enabling existing homes to be subdivided into as many as four units without prompting commercial zoning regulations as is currently the case in the state. The group also seeks to retain baseline protections for new historic districts. A hearing on the bill will be held June 22nd. See the Restore Oregon site for more details.