Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":

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Tighe Architecture designs a steeply arched complex in newly developing portion of Los Angeles

Los Angeles-based firm Tighe Architecture recently received approval for its Barranca, a mixed-use, six-story building in the newly developing western edge of Lincoln Heights, one of the oldest neighborhoods on the east side of L.A. The project is across the street from Fuller Lofts, former industrial buildings adaptively reused into loft apartments and retrofitted with a distinctive metal rooftop by local firm Brooks+Scarpa. Developed by 4Site Real Estate, the project will replace 12 existing low-rise structures with a single 200,000-square-foot building that will house a 100-bed hotel, 100 apartment units, and commercial retail on its ground floor intended to revitalize the formerly industrial, underserved stretch into a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. To resolve the project’s presence as one of the largest buildings in the area while occupying the entire western end of a city block, Barranca was designed to appear as two distinct yet still connected buildings. The hotel constitutes the southern side of the project, which is distinguished by steep archways rendered in an off-white texture and large windows with metal accents that, together, are reminiscent of a castle wall. According to the firm, the hotel side was designed by taking “classical staples and reintroducing them to an area in need of a fresh new vision for an emerging neighborhood.” The northern portion is relatively demure in a grey and black palette that contains apartment units (five of which will be affordable housing) and corresponding amenities that include two courtyards, shared offices, a lounge, and a swimming pool tucked away on the third level. A wealth of greenery will be added to the perimeter of the site, a much-needed amenity for the predominantly concrete neighborhood. Barranca represents the third mixed-use building Tighe Architecture has designed for 4Site throughout Los Angeles, following 2300 Beverly and 2510 Temple. The firm has also made a name for itself locally by designing other, similarly striking affordable housing projects with limited budgets, including La Brea and Sierra Bonita.
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Temporary eviction bans roll out across America, residents ask for more

With more than 160,000 known cases and 3,400 deaths in the United States estimated as of today, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has already resulted in the unexpected closure of countless museums, restaurants, bars, schools, and other establishments integral to the country’s economic growth. A record 3.3 million people have already filed for unemployment within the last few weeks with many more expected on the way, leaving the subject of housing as one of the most pressing issues among city and state officials. Within the last week, prior to the April 1 deadline at which most rent and mortgage checks are expected under normal conditions (aka today), state officials have independently announced eviction moratoriums with varying term dates. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo released an executive order on March 7 that includes a 90-day eviction moratorium, while California Governor Gavin Newsom, at the helm of the most populous state in the country with over 40 million residents, released a similar order that prevents residential evictions for two months to those who have been laid off due to the pandemic. “For tenants, there will be no eviction proceedings; there will be no enforcement as it relates to pay for COVID-19,” said Newsom, according to the Los Angeles Times. Renters in both states will, however, have to make up the rent they owe after their respective moratorium periods, and rent payments are expected of those who do not provide written testimony that they are unable to pay them (The Hill reports, meanwhile, that New York state lawmakers are working on a rent suspension bill that is currently in committee but will likely be held up by Governor Cuomo). While many might be relieved to learn they can stave off eviction until they find the necessary funds, affordable housing leaders feel the measures are minimal and shortsighted. “I think we’re deeply disappointed that it isn’t just a blanket moratorium on evictions,” said Francisco Dueñas of the California-based advocacy group Housing Now. Residents of major American cities have called upon government officials to institute rent freezes and other initiatives to stave off the financial hardships being felt across the country. Over 15,000 Chicagoans, for example, have signed an online petition spearheaded by a tenants union that includes a city-wide freeze on rent, utility payments, and mortgages, according to The Chicago Tribune. More than 82,000 residents of New York City have signed a similar petition seeking to ensure that “every New Yorker is safely housed.” At a time when housing security has never been more important to obtain, a unified message of dissatisfaction is likely to become amplified over the coming weeks as millions of renters make the difficult choice between pouring into their savings, writing pleas to their landlords, and participating in a burgeoning nation-wide strike (made visible through the growing #RentStrike hashtag on Twitter). The delayed governmental reaction to the pandemic felt among renters is shared among homeless Americans, some of whom have already taken the matter into their own hands. Homeless families in Los Angeles, for instance, have seized vacant homes owned by the city to protect themselves against the health crisis during the shelter in place order.
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Michael Maltzan Architecture designs affordable mass timber housing tower for Skid Row

The newest supportive housing development is in the works in the Skid Row neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles at the hand of one of the city’s most experienced designers of the typology. Local firm Michael Maltzan Architecture is currently in the design phase for The Alvidrez, a 14-story tower containing 150 studio apartments and “support spaces” on the ground floor, which will include case management, individual and group counseling, and group activities to improve the health and well-being of residents. The massing of The Alvidrez was determined in part by the construction logic of the mass timber frame system that the firm will employ to meet sustainability guidelines, while the units were designed using modular building blocks made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) column, beam, and deck members. The building’s overall appearance is described by the firm as a “collection of vertical bundles” that provide a series of rooftop terraces providing spaces for unprogrammed community spaces, though it may draw comparison to Kisho Kurokawa’s endangered Metabolist Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo. The 77,000-square-foot project will provide housing exclusively for the homeless community of Skid Row, with 30 percent of its units reserved for those with mental or physical disabilities. Each unit will come with all the features required for independent living, including a bathroom, kitchen, appliances and furnishings. “Individual apartments and on-site supportive services have proven, time and again, to be key to breaking the cycle of homelessness,” wrote the firm.  The Alvidrez was commissioned by the Skid Row Housing Trust, a local nonprofit group that has completed 26 buildings throughout Los Angeles County, to provide affordable, permanent supportive housing for nearly 2,000 people and was named in honor of the Trust’s former CEO Mike Alvidrez. Michael Maltzan Architecture has designed several other buildings for the nonprofit in the past, including Crest Apartments in Van Nuys and the Rainbow Apartments and New Carver Apartments in Downtown Los Angeles. The group has also employed other notable architecture firms, including Koning Eizenberg and Brooks + Scarpa.  Following the completion of an environmental impact report, construction is expected to begin early next year and be finished by early 2023.
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3D-printed houses completed for Austin’s homeless population

ICON, a robotics and advanced materials startup based in Austin, Texas, made headlines on the grounds of the 2018 South by Southwest Festival when it presented a prototype for a 3D-printed home created under 24 hours at a cost of $10,000. Two years later, the company applied its tools to the city's affordable housing crisis when it recently unveiled a small neighborhood of six 3D printed homes that will soon be ready for occupancy. The 400-square-foot dwellings, the first full 3D-printed homes in the country, are now a part of Community First Village, a 51-acre master-planned community in northeastern Austin providing affordable, permanent housing and social services for the city’s former homeless community. The structures, designed by local firm Logan Architecture with finishings by Franklin Alan, all feature a single bedroom, bathroom, full kitchen, living room, and porch. “The promise of ICON’s 3D-printing technology is really exciting,” Alan Graham, the founder of the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes which opened the village in 2016, said in a press statement, “and what better place to start putting it to use than in one of the country’s most innovative neighborhoods designed to serve men and women who have experienced the trauma of homelessness? Vulnerable populations like the homeless are never among the first to access leading-edge anything, but now here in Austin, they’re among the first in line who will be living in some of the most unique homes ever built—and we think that’s a beautiful thing.” To produce the homes, ICON used their 2-ton, 11-foot-tall Vultan II printer, which extrudes a proprietary concrete mixture the team refers to as “Lavacrete.” ICON cofounder and CEO Jason Ballard believes the technology can be easily applied to the country’s affordable housing crisis in light of the relatively short construction time it affords, as well as the often small environmental footprint and design flexibility. Thanks to the ability to print the walls of three homes at a time, the Community First Village project is nearly complete and will open to its first occupants this spring. More tiny home communities will likely pop up across the country in the near future given the recent passing of the YIMBY Act, a bill written to streamline affordable housing production and zoning for high-density single-family and multifamily housing, by the House of Representatives. A similar community of 40 units traditionally-built shelters was recently completed in San Jose, California, on a formerly vacant property owned by the Valley Transit Authority.
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YIMBY Act passes House of Representatives, could pave the way for more affordable housing

Last Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, which directly addresses the affordable housing crisis currently felt throughout the country by streamlining affordable housing production and zoning for high-density single-family and multifamily housing. The piece of legislation, H.R. 4351, was first put forth in September 2019 by Dennis Heck and Trey Hollingsworth, the US Representatives for Washington’s 10th congressional district and Indiana’s 9th congressional district, respectively. They introduced the bill at the time by stating that the US currently faces an estimated shortage of seven to ten million housing units, significantly more than at any other time in the country’s history. “America is missing millions of homes, and solving our nationwide housing crisis will require federal, state and local governments to work together towards this shared goal,” Heck said in a press statement. In response to that monumental challenge, the bill proposes several efforts to reduce the hurdles currently associated with affordable housing production, including the reduction of minimum lot sizes, increasing development in areas close to transit centers, and allowing for the construction of duplexes and manufactured homes in areas currently zoned for single-family homes. Increasing the allowable floor area ratio in multifamily housing areas and providing incentives to produce adaptive reuse projects are just a few of the measures listed throughout the bill that could dramatically improve the housing crisis. Many of the measures included, in fact, are similar to those in other, smaller bills passed throughout the country, such as SB-13 in California, which streamlined the process to produce accessory dwelling units in an effort to increase the state's housing density. Prior to receiving approval from the House without opposition, the YIMBY Act received support from multiple nonprofit organizations dedicated to the affordable housing crisis, including the American Planning Association, the Congress for New Urbanism, the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, and Habitat for Humanity International. Hollingsworth said in a press statement that its bipartisan passage "signals strong support across the aisle to reform our nation’s housing regulations at all levels of government.” The YIMBY act must still pass the Senate and ultimately receive a presidential signature before being signed into law.
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Magnusson Architecture delivers high-design affordable housing to the Bronx

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The design and construction of affordable housing in New York is a formidable task; between labor and material costs, and the hurdles of municipal zoning and housing regulation, even the grandest of projects are budget engineered into imitations of the original concept. Magnusson Architecture and Planning’s (MAP) St. Augustine Terrace, a low-income residential tower located in the Bronx, challenges that trend with a thoughtful design consisting of dark brick and matted aluminum composite panels. Over the last three decades, MAP has led a broad range of affordable housing projects across New York City and the Hudson Valley. St. Augustine Terrace is located just south of Cortona Park in the Morrisania neighborhood, the project and joins the practice’s particular focus on urban regeneration in the Bronx—the building was also awarded a merit in the 2020 AIANY Design Awards and an AIA New York State Design Award.
  • Facade Manufacturer Alcoa Glen Gerry
  • Architect Magnusson Architecture and Planning
  • Facade Installer D&G Construction Arco Construction Commercial Window Group
  • Location The Bronx, New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System CMU and metal stud
  • Products Glen Gery "Dark Iron" Roman Brick Platinum Reynobond FR by Alcoa
The tower rises on the triangular plot of the former site of the Church of St. Augustine, which was demolished in 2013 after decades of decay stemming from a dwindling congregation. In total, the project provides 112 affordable housing units, of which approximately a quarter are devoted to adults with mental illness. The elevator lobbies of each floor are located on the primary south elevation and provide views of the Manhattan skyline through significant glazing bays. To mitigate glare, MAP wrapped each elevator lobby with a four-ringed set of brise soleil produced by Kawneer. “We designed the sunshades to wrap around the entire glazed portion of the elevator lobby from very early in the design phase, and sized them so that they would shade a majority of the floor-to-ceiling glazing during peak sun hours in the hottest months of the year,” said MAP principal Fernando Villa. “We typically work these calculations out through drawing sections, calculating the angle of the sun at several points in the year, and sometimes with schematic sun studies.” Outside of the significant glazing on the south elevation, the bulk of the tower’s cladding is composed of aluminum composite and brick. The aluminum composite panels are just over an eighth-of-an-inch thick and are arranged in alternating bands of dimensions; narrow panels line spandrels while those of larger height span from floor to ceiling. The tower’s Roman-style bricks are in keeping with the surrounding turn-of-the-century context and are arranged according to a standard running bond.  
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California fails to pass contentious S.B. 50 housing bill

For the third year in a row, a controversial bill to increase home building in California has failed to win approval in the state Senate, according to the Los Angeles Times. Senate Bill 50 was intended to help curb the housing shortage and cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars while boosting density in developed areas near transit hubs. But vocal opposition over gentrification, affordable housing, and of course, up-zoning changes in wealthier neighborhoods, trumped all of those benefits.  Only three votes stood in the way of the measure passing in the state Senate last week. That same number of votes was missing last year when Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill back in 2018, reintroduced it on the senator floor. With support from California’s Governor Gavin Newsom in his ongoing promise to fix the state’s housing crisis, it seemed like this year would Wiener’s winning attempt. But S.B. 50 failed again. The measure couldn’t pass all these years, according to the senate opponents, because S.B. 50 failed to adequately address the state’s growing need for affordable housing. The bill would have allowed developers to build more mid-rise apartments near mass transit and job centers in the state’s most populous cities. But community advocates for low-income areas worried that the idea would eventually out-price people from those neighborhoods, while activists in suburban areas argued against densification. Each year that Weiner introduced the bill back into the conversation, he revamped it with changes intended to address the concerns raised in previous attempts. Despite efforts to appease all sides and a move to allow local governments the chance to develop their own sets of standards similar to Senate Bill 50, the proposal failed for the final time. The L.A. Times reported a major divide in votes between lawmakers in metropolitan Los Angeles and the rest of the state. Nine local senators voted no or abstained from the vote while only one voted yes.  Similar to the split in the senate, ordinary Californians appear conflicted over the bill too. Senator president pro tem Toni Atkins wrote on Twitter that although the bill failed, she will work towards producing another piece of legislation that will pass this year. 
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Second phase of Anita May Rosenstein Campus set to open this summer

Eight months after the first phase of the Leong Leong and Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA)-designed Anita May Rosenstein LGBT Center in Los Angeles was completed, the second phase of the project, named The McCadden Campus, has recently begun construction. KFA is the executive architect and is overseeing their construction in collaboration with Thomas Safran & Associates, an  affordable housing developer and property management company. While the first phase brought much-needed facilities to the organization—including a new senior community center and youth academy, administrative offices, a retail space, and several cultural events spaces—the second phase will facilitate even more in3tergenerational engagement.That includes the addition of a five-story structure for 98 affordable housing units for seniors, and a four-story structure with an additional 25 studios reserved for youth housing, both of which are designed to accommodate residents with mobility and hearing and/or vision disabilities. “The Anita May Rosenstein Campus,” explained Dominic Leong of Leong Leong, “is a new type of social infrastructure for the LGBTQ community that synthesizes social services and affordable housing into a porous urban campus.” From the outside, the two buildings of the second phase seem to be more restrained in their design than those of the first. The curved senior housing building stretches across the north end of the campus to provide views of the Hollywood Hills, while the narrow, boxy youth housing structure is sited across the street on North McCadden Place, to maintain a connection to The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, another facility owned by the center that houses several community-oriented event spaces. Altogether, the $141 million campus will connect multiple programs and community-based events across four acres for the roughly 42,000 clients for which the center provides services each month. “Inspired by the mission of the Center,” Leong added, “the architecture is a cohesive mosaic of identities and programs rather than a singular iconic gesture. With a series of internal courtyards and a new public plaza, the campus proactively interfaces with the city while also creating a sanctuary for the community within.” A portion of phase two will be ready for occupancy by Summer 2020.
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Governor Gavin Newsom proposes billion-dollar plan to alleviate California's homeless crisis

On January 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his statewide initiative to resolve the homeless crisis. The plan calls for a $1.45 billion budget, $750 million of which is from taxpayer money that will be designated for supportive housing, while the remaining $700 million will go towards health-related expenses. “We have an unprecedented amount of investment, and with that, we want transparency and accountability,” Newsom later told KCRA in a televised interview. “We want to see a reduction in street population, we want more people rapidly rehoused, and we want [to provide] more access to behavioral health.” Newsom began a statewide tour on January 13 to speak with California's dispersed homeless population and local nonprofits to learn how best to spend the budget. “Californians have lots of compassion for those among us who are living without shelter,” said Newsom in a statement. “But we also know what compassion isn’t. Compassion isn’t allowing a person suffering a severe psychotic break or from a lethal substance abuse addiction to literally drift towards death on our streets and sidewalks.” The Governor also recently signed an executive order to invest in the search for vacant properties across California to develop them into affordable housing, with an emphasis on those next to highways, state roads, and other commonly-underdeveloped sites—although a recent raid on the nonprofit Moms4Housing in Oakland over squatting, complete with tanks, is seemingly at odds with this strategy. Though many of Newsom's plans for solving the homeless crisis were unsuccessful when serving as San Francisco's mayor from 2004-2011, the recent announcement is an opportunity for Newsom to focus his attention on a statewide level with a significantly increased budget. The plan comes shortly after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that 151,000 homeless people, nearly one-quarter of the nation's homeless population, live in the state. While the amount of homelessness has decreased in other parts of the country, the report explains, the population has increased by 16 percent in California. Homelessness has been a significant issue in California given the skyrocketing cost of housing, mixed with a staggering shortage of affordable housing, making the issue a priority among California voters.
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Santa Fe live-work complex offers artists affordable housing amid critical shortage

Santa Fe’s housing shortage has reached critical levels in recent years, prompting comments that “the fabric of the community is weakened as precious resources—people’s time, energy, and money—are drawn away by housing costs or long commutes,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. With an estimated 5,000- to-10,000 additional housing units needed to ease the crisis, a debate has emerged over the market’s shift in focus toward short-term rentals and Airbnb listings rather than affordable long-term rentals. Siler Yard: Arts + Creativity Center hopes to be a small-but-mighty part of the solution by offering income-restricted living and working space for 65 artists. Planning for Siler Yard began in 2012 when Creative Santa Fe, an organization dedicated to “using collaboration and the power of the arts to reframe critical issues and drive positive change,” reached out to the nonprofit developer Artspace regarding the plausibility of creating an affordable living and working complex for Santa Fe artists. Over the next several years, the team commissioned designs by Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Trey Jordan Architecture, da Silva Architecture, and Surroundings Studio. Most recently, the project was awarded a $10.4 million low-income housing tax credit from the State of New Mexico, officially launching the neighborhood into construction. Siler Yard will welcome applications from anyone who shows passion and commitment to creative pursuits. Applicants do not need to receive their primary income from creative work, and Siler Yards plans to include a variety of creatives, including musicians, writers, chefs, and designers. The units are capped in incremental amounts that will cater to mostly low- and very low-income residents, and more than half will include two or three bedrooms for families with children. In addition to the private units, the complex will include a shared maker space with specialized resources and space to host community workshops and classes. The project, overseen by nonprofit developers Creative Santa Fe and New Mexico Interfaith Housing, expects to break ground in spring 2020 with the full build-out completed sometime in summer 2021.
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Where do the Democratic frontrunners stand on housing?

Although the 2020 election is a year out at the time of writing, and the first Democratic primary in Iowa is two months away, the battle to become the Dem frontrunner is becoming increasingly brutal. As the campaign field is winnowed on what seems like a daily basis, and a once sprawling cast has been cut back to a handful of mainstays and self-financed billionaires, we've aggregated the housing views of the top six Democratic contenders. Whoever wins the next presidential election will have the ability, and mandate, to reshape the American housing landscape; and in turn, how our cities develop. (For brevity's sake, President Trump's housing plans have not been included, as they will likely remain the same. This may change over the course of the presidential campaign proper.) Of course, because housing, urban development, and construction are issues intertwined with livelihood, race, climate, trade, and a myriad of other issues, each candidate's approach can't be examined from just one angle. Joe Biden While former Vice President Joe Biden has not released a housing plan writ large, he has announced a goal to house all formerly incarcerated people as a part of his Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice. His announcement promises to direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to require all contractors to allow formerly incarcerated people in their facilities. This implies that HUD is building much at all at this point, whereas the reality is that so much funding has been drained away from the department over the years that what is created through federal grants is a paltry drop in the bucket. The department's total budget is $42 billion; more than half of that goes towards rental assistance, $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants, and $2.78 billion for public housing capital projects. Not only is this figure inadequate for the housing needs of people of low-to-moderate means in general, it wouldn’t even meet the needs of the formerly incarcerated. Biden’s plan also argues for more funding for transitional housing, something previously cut by the Trump administration. However, by addressing such a narrow part of the general problem of housing, Biden tends to inadvertently suggest how little he is conscious of the actual problems of housing in the U.S.; as the New Republic put it, based on what he has plans to do, Biden should be president for five minutes. That doesn’t mean that Biden’s policies might not indirectly improve housing conditions for those in need of assistance. His Plan for Rural America for instance, talks about improving the middle class and investing in rural places. But the details are more about improving trade policies to help farm exports, which might benefit large agribusiness more than small farmers. Biden also talks about providing microloans for beginning farmers and aiding sustainable farmers with access to markets by having federal programs buy from them directly, which are so small-bore and marginal as proposals as to reinforce the notion that Biden has awfully few ideas when it comes to rural housing initiatives. Perhaps the most promising areas of Biden’s policies that could be relevant for housing are his Plan to Invest in Middle-Class Competitiveness, which is essentially an infrastructure bill, and his Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice, which is essentially a policy in support of the Green New Deal resolution. Biden talks here about directing HUD to increase the energy efficiency of low-income housing, which wouldn’t expand the housing stock; however, it would increase the federal energy standards for appliances and building equipment, accelerating the adoption of stricter building codes. The knock-on effects of these could hold real promise for improving the quantity and quality of housing, if legislated well, but there are huge gaps here in terms of addressing the incentive structures that cause the housing stock to remain unaffordable to half of American households. Biden mentions increasing the funding of the New Market Tax Credit (a tax incentive to build in low-income communities) to $5 billion to support Community Development Financial Institutions. This is still a drop in the bucket for a nationwide program and totally insufficient to support the needs of small-and-medium-size cities—for instance, it's estimated that the New York City Housing Authority could need up to $68.5 billion in repair costs alone by 2028. Elizabeth Warren As one would expect from her “She’s Got a Plan” motto, Warren has a relatively substantial set of policy proposals for how to create affordable housing. Her Safe and Affordable Housing plan hits back at a number of factors causing distortions in the housing marketplace to the detriment of lower and middle-income earners. The plan sets a top-line goal to reduce rents by 10 percent, but her argument is initially premised on the mistaken assumption that prices are a function of supply and demand. In the very next line, Warren correctly acknowledges the contrary: Market incentives are producing higher-end housing that is more profitable but doesn’t meet the needs of at least half of the population. In response, Warren has introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act in the Senate, legislation that would invest $500 billion over ten years to build, preserve, and rehabilitate up to 3.2 million units affordable to lower-income families. This goes a long way toward injecting capital into a part of the housing market that banks don’t lend to and that has been starved for access to federal loans and grants for decades. Some of the smaller aspects are relatively minuscule but may be marginally helpful, such as providing capital to black communities and underwater mortgages, trying (again) to force banks to lend to low-income communities in line with the long-ignored Community Reinvestment Act, and offering incentives to municipalities to loosen restrictive zoning that limits lot sizes and requires parking, driving up costs. At the same time, Warren has put forward a plan to protect and empower renters, a group largely ignored by the American dream of homeownership that turned into a nightmare during the mortgage-backed securities crisis. Thirty-percent of homes are renter-occupied in the U.S., with 57 percent owner-occupied and more than 10 percent vacant either annually or seasonally. Warren wants to use the $500 billion in federal housing subsidies as a prod to force states and municipalities to adopt a federal just cause eviction standard, a right to lease renewal—effectively a sort of federal rent control if done right—protections against construction evictions, and protecting tenants’ right to organize. To the extent it could be effectively written, passed by Congress, and enforced, this legislation could substantially change the trajectory of housing costs. Apart from that, Warren has a number of clean energy policies that would impact the housing sector; in particular, the ambition of creating a zero-carbon building standard by 2023, a mandate to move toward 100 percent zero-carbon new buildings by 2028, a subsidy for retrofitting existing building through tax credits, access to financing for moderate-income households, and direct federal grants. Bernie Sanders True to form, Bernie Sanders' housing plan is articulated in broad, sweeping strokes, premised on ideas of economic justice. “Housing for All” is simple and to the point: “In the richest country in the history of the world, every American must have a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home as a fundamental right.” It’s also comprehensive in addressing the problem, analyzing the shortfall of 7.4 million units of housing affordable to the lowest-income households. Sanders' plan identifies seniors and people with disabilities as particularly vulnerable, in addition to those affected by rising prices and the failure of wages to keep up with prices in cities and rural areas. Also true to form, Sanders does not shy away from addressing the costs: $2.5 trillion over 10 years to build nearly 10 million permanently affordable housing units. The breakdown is distributed through a $1.48 trillion investment in HUD’s National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, focused on building permanently affordable rentals and providing assistance to first-time homeowners. He proposes allocating an additional $400 billion towards the construction of two million mixed-income social housing units, $410 billion to fully fund Section 8 rental assistance for the 7.7 million rent-burdened households nationwide, along with $70 billion to rehabilitate and decarbonize public housing. Sanders would ask Congress to repeal the 1999 law that prohibits using federal funding for new public housing. In rural and tribal areas, Sanders has proposed adding $3 billion to the Indian Housing Block Grant Program to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable housing in sovereign tribal lands, and $500 million for affordable developments in rural areas, along with regulations protecting existing units from conversion to market-rate housing. Sanders’s platform includes measures for combatting gentrification, exclusionary zoning, segregation, and housing speculation. Like Warren, he would protect existing tenants by implementing national rent regulation, specifying limits to annual increases of no more than a three percent annually or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index, with waivers for significant capital improvements; a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, and a right to counsel in housing disputes. Sanders has proposed a 25 percent "flipping tax" and a two percent empty home tax, but the rest of this part of the platform is fairly weak compared to the direct language elsewhere, as it leverages access to federal funds to incentivize jurisdictions to pass their own inclusionary zoning laws. Also like Warren, Sanders has included a robust set of policies to achieve reduce energy consumption in homes, aiming for 100 percent sustainable sources of electricity and a zero-carbon building sector by no later than 2030. This would be achieved by weatherizing, handing out grants for retrofitting, replacing mobile homes with zero carbon modular units, replacing gas heat with electricity, and subsidizing HVAC replacements with energy-efficient equipment. Pete Buttigieg Pete Buttigieg’s language is measured, reasoned, and clear, making concerted arguments that are rooted in unifying, centrist values. “Security means ensuring every American family has safe, affordable housing” is the headline under affordable housing in his list of campaign issues. But in spite of that, his platform on affordable housing is extremely narrow, oriented around what he calls the Community Homestead Act, a part of his set of proposals for how to redress the history of redlining and discrimination against Black homeownership. Somewhat like land banks in cities with a history of housing vacancy and abandonment, Buttigieg proposes to create a national housing trust that would purchase abandoned properties and redistribute them to qualifying families in pilot cities. Sounds extremely limited, and the bigger problem—as anyone familiar with land banks knows—is that abandoned properties are generally stripped of anything of value. They typically sit empty for many years and lack building services, the building envelopes and rooftops often needs expensive rehabilitations, and they have other serious problems that make them inordinately complicated and time-consuming to fix compared to new construction. Beyond that, Buttigieg lists in bullet points the goals of ending homelessness for families with children, national funding for affordable housing construction, and expanded federal protections against eviction and harassment of tenants, but he provides no detail how to achieve any of them. Michael Bloomberg Mike Bloomberg’s campaign includes proposals for new housing and an earned income credit under one headline policy, perhaps acknowledging that wages and affordability are inevitably linked. As one might expect, his pitch to primary voters leans heavily on his record as mayor of New York City, claiming a legacy of pioneering programs to allow New Yorkers to “gain access to housing and build house wealth” (He doesn’t say which New Yorkers or how many, and certainly some people got rich and were able to buy homes during his administration). An “expansion of funding for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit…would add hundreds of thousands of units of affordable housing over ten years,” claims the Bloomberg campaign. This policy will be familiar to New Yorkers, who recall the city aiming to create or preserve 250,000 units of affordable housing during five years of his administration. This same target, more or less, was the ambition of every mayor since Koch in the 1980s, including Bill de Blasio. We don’t know if Bloomberg achieved it or not, but the campaign's literature quotes an official crediting him with creating 165,000 units during his 12 years in office. Homelessness had significantly increased by the end of Bloomberg's third term, however, and the city had lost more affordable housing than it had gained. This proposal is somehow even less ambitious but stretched thinner, and on a national scale. Bloomberg has also called for an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, which would especially help single families with children, and an increase in the minimum wage, which would theoretically address the income levels of households, while leaving untouched the market incentives that tend to push up prices. At $15 an hour, a single-income household would be earning $31,200 a year, which is around one-third the income needed to rent a typical apartment in New York City. Andrew Yang Despite Yang’s excitement about some shipping containers he encountered during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, with apologies to Lo-Tek, the future of housing is not discarded cargo shipping containers, nor is it at the center of his proposed housing policies. That said, the incident does capture the infectious tech optimism of the Yang campaign, a sense of hopefulness about finding data-driven or engineering solutions to problems. Yang's argument for what he calls human-centered capitalism is an argument for regulating markets in a way that serves public interested goals rather than profit-making. Unfortunately, his thinking about housing policy doesn’t take how profit-making functions in the actual housing market into account. Yang’s proposed housing policy falls under the category of zoning, and focuses on the need to eliminate zoning limits that supply-siders think are the main reason why housing is expensive. Free up restrictive zoning and money will magically flow through the invisible hand of the market to fill the affordable housing gap, the thinking goes. As we know, in reality, all things being equal, the market tends to supply housing to the highest income earners, because it favors higher profitability when there are no other regulations or mandates in place. Yang uses San Francisco as a model of how restrictive zoning prevents new housing from being created, but that is a gross oversimplification of San Francisco's problem, and it suggests that historic preservation, protection of neighborhood character, and a human scale can be easily sacrificed for greater density, rather than using other constraints and incentives to produce a more balanced housing market. Zoning is one tool among many, but by itself, it’s not sufficient.
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Oakland councilwoman proposes converting cruise ships into homeless housing

During a presentation at a committee meeting on December 5, Oakland City Council president Rebecca Kaplan presented a doubtlessly provocative plan to partially resolve one of the California Bay Area's most significant political crises. One strategy for housing a thousand members of the region's homeless population, Kaplan suggested, would be to repurpose a disused cruise ship and keep it close to the harbor. “I think it’s worth working on," Kaplan opined, "to see if we can have an innovation to provide needed, urgent housing quickly and affordably.” As ludicrous as the idea may have sounded to Kaplan's audience members, it quickly gained traction with those in the industry. Two days after her presentation, an unidentified cruise ship company expressed interest in offering a number of ships for the cause. The opportunity might be attractive to a number of cruise ship companies in light of a looming emissions regulation imposed by the International Maritime Organization that is expected to take place next year. According to the new policy, a number of ships will not fail to qualify for engine upgrades and will therefore not be suitable as fully-functioning cruise ships. Unable to leave the docks, these ships could potentially serve a surprisingly altruistic purpose as they have in the past as emergency housing during Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Katrina, and other natural disasters. Given the proven track record (though not for long-term housing), Kaplan expressed that she is "excited about the possibility to create more affordable housing quickly.” The Port of Oakland, however, has stated that the plan could not work on its dock in light of current restrictions. The ports are designed for cargo ships, Port of Oakland spokesman Michael Zampa explained, and cannot reasonably accommodate cruise ships without significant alterations. When putting into perspective that the current homeless population in Oakland is currently over 4,000 with little sign of decreasing, a plan such as Kaplan's might become a reality in the near future.