Feb. Housing Starts Stabilize | Philly Responds to Gentrification | Housing Recovery & Minorities

March 18th 2014

Some Philadelphia residents worry Francisville’s rise will price them out. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Phil. Daily News)

  1. Housing starts in U.S. show little change from stronger January. “Housing starts in the U.S. were little changed in February after declining less than previously estimated a month earlier, indicating the home-building industry is stabilizing after bad winter weather curbed construction. The 0.2 percent decrease to 907,000 homes at an annualized rate last month followed a revised 909,000 pace in January, figures from the Commerce Department in Washington showed today.” [Businessweek – 03/18/14]
  2. Philadelphia unveils plan for affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods. “Council President Darrell Clarke today unveiled a plan to build 1,500 affordable housing units in gentrifying neighborhoods like Francisville, Point Breeze and Mantua by redeveloping city-owned vacant land or tax-delinquent properties. One thousand of the units will be rentals and would take advantage of two underused financing tools, Clarke said: operational subsidies for affordable housing from the Philadelphia Housing Authority and a tax credit from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.” [Philadelphia Daily News – 03/17/14]
  3. The housing recovery is leaving minorities behind. “If we compare the housing market today to this pre-bubble moment, many people who might have qualified for mortgages by 2001 credit standards are walking away empty-handed. In some sense, their loans have gone “missing,” a casualty of today’s abnormally tight credit.Look even closer at who’s contained within this group, and another cruelty of the housing market emerges: Minorities who disproportionately lost wealth during the housing bust are now disproportionately left out of the recovery, too.” [Washington Post – 03/17/14]
  4. The U.S. cities with the highest levels of income segregation. “Major metro areas have been magnets for both the rich and the poor since ancient times; in fact they owe a great deal of their dynamism to their economic and social diversity. But growing economic segregation-the increasing tendency of affluent people to live in neighborhoods where almost everyone else is affluent, and poor people to live in neighborhoods where almost everyone else is poor-may be a more insidious problem. The emergence of a new urban geography of concentrated wealth and advantage juxtaposed to endemic poverty and concentrated disadvantage poses troubling implications for the economic mobility of people and the economic health of cities.” [Atlantic Cities – 03/18/14]
  5. New York City housing court goes on trial. “A consortium of tenant advocacy organizations held a mock trial of the Brooklyn Housing Court on Thursday in Brooklyn Borough Hall. Over 200 people filled the ceremonial room in Borough Hall to watch Brooklyn Tenants United bring the housing court up on six “counts,” including being located in a facility with “deplorable” conditions, a lack of translators, poor signage and not providing adequate legal representation to tenants.” [Brooklyn Bureau – 03/18/14]
  6. These cities built affordable housing that’s also appealing. Can NYC? “Among Mayor de Blasio’s specific vows, one figure stands out: 200,000. That’s the number of affordable apartments he wants to provide over the next decade….But New York doesn’t need to give up on decent architecture in its rush to social justice - in fact, the two are intertwined.” [New York Magazine – 03/16/14]
  7. Legal duo highlight racial bias in New York’s $21B property tax. “Late last month, a pair of lawyers working for Newman Ferrara, a small law firm, set New York’s powerful real estate industry on its ear by filing a class-action suit that challenges the basic underpinnings of the city’s $21 billion property tax.For decades the city has been criticized, especially by the commercial real estate industry, for placing too much of the financial burden on rental-apartment and office buildings.What the suit did for the first time was to claim that the system is actually racially biased. ” [Crain’s New York Business – 03/17/14]
  8. San Francisco ups total it will lend to homebuyers. “San Francisco will now lend as much as $200,000 to some homebuyers toward a down payment on their first house or condominium.Mayor Ed Lee’s decision to double the previous limit of $100,000 was intended to help middle-class residents who have been hit hard by the housing crunch….The move came as the median home price in the city reached $925,000 due to low supply and high demand, especially among the city’s influx of well-paid technology workers. The city said the previous loan limit is now too low to do much good.” [Washington Post – 03/17/14]
  9. Rethinking homes and their city role. “From coast to coast, private equity firms, hedge funds and other institutional investors are snapping up houses - the kind that people actually live in, as opposed to swaps of bundles of slivers of mortgages. A broker in Brooklyn estimated not long ago that 70 percent of local home purchases were by such investors. In a research note last week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch warned that while “home prices have surged,” a “historically low” share of sales were to first-time buyers.” [New York Times – 03/18/14]
  10. Prospect-Lefferts Gardens is ‘On the Map’ “Residents often cite the area as “Brooklyn’s best-kept secret,” bordering the east side ofProspect Park and down the road from theBrooklyn Botanic Garden, with a substantial and attractive historic district, and subway stops for three express trains. It’s also a community with no hard-and-fast height limits on development, and its real estate can cost as little as half that on the other side of the park.” [New York Times – 03/13/14]
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