HUD Conducts New Homelessness Study | Mayor Announces Record Number of Affordable Housing Units

July 14th 2015

Photo Credit: Ricardo Arduengo/AP

  1. The Best Way to End Homelessness “In 2010, the Obama administration announced a plan to end homelessness among children, youth, and families by 2020—but, predictably, there have been spats over funding and how to best use federal dollars. Now a rigorous report, the first large-scale experiment ever conducted to test the effectiveness of homelessness interventions for families, might have some clues about how to create meaningful change. The Family Options Study is a three-year-long evaluation of three types of ways to help homeless families, conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Vanderbilt University. It looks at 12 communities throughout a variety of U.S. cities—including Boston, Denver, Kansas City, Phoenix, and Honolulu—and involves 2,300 homeless families. The findings so far—the study is currently at its midway point—suggest some solutions for reducing homelessness and improving the lives of low-income families, even those who are currently housed.” [The Atlantic – 07/11/15]
  2. Mayor Announces Near-Record Number of Affordable Housing Units “The de Blasio administration announced Monday it financed 20,325 affordable apartments last fiscal year—the biggest unit count in decades. ‘Today, there are more shovels going in the ground to build affordable homes than at any time in almost 40 years,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. Out of the total for fiscal 2015, which ended June 30, 11,825 were existing affordable apartments that were preserved with new agreements and subsidies, while roughly 8,500 of the deals were for units that will be newly constructed. The latter figure was by far the highest since these records were first kept in 1978. That ratio of preserved to new affordable units roughly matches up with the administration’s goals outlined in its Housing New York Plan last May, which called for the preservation of 120,000 and construction of 80,000 apartments over a decade.” [Crain’s New York Business – 07/13/15]
  3. Last Stop on the L Train: Detroit “It is now well-documented that some of Brooklyn’s much-written-about creative class is being driven out of the borough by high prices and low housing stock. Some are going to Los Angeles (or even Queens), but others are migrating to the Midwest, where Detroit’s empty industrial spaces, community-based projects, experimental art scene and innovative design opportunities beckon, despite the city’s continuing challenges. ‘Brooklyn lost its whole sense of adventure for me,’ said Ben Wolf, 31, a Pratt Institute graduate who, after more than a decade in New York, moved to Detroit almost three years ago to continue creating his site-specific installations and sculptures, made from rotten boards, rusty stairwells and peeling paint, or as he said, ‘the decadence of abandonment.’” [New York Times – 07/10/15]
  4. Criticism Continues of New York City’s Management of Sandy Recovery “Mr. de Blasio and his senior officials frequently have criticized former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Sandy-recovery efforts, vowing to overhaul the troubled Build It Back program to reconstruct or fix up about 20,000 homes. But some 18 months into Mr. de Blasio’s mayoralty, federal and local officials say the city is still moving too slowly and lags behind New Jersey and New York state in helping homeowners. Over the past year, federal officials have warned City Hall it could risk the forfeiture of millions of dollars for Sandy recovery from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development unless it sped up the rebuilding work. When Build It Back started in 2013, more than 20,000 New York City households applied for help. Two years later, 10,000 remain in the program.” [Wall Street Journal – 07/09/15]
  5. Mayor de Blasio Says NYCHA Has Removed Nearly 8 Miles of Scaffolding from Public Housing Buildings “NYCHA has pulled down all the unsightly scaffolding taking up space where there’s no construction going on, Mayor de Blasio announced Thursday. The city has removed 43,769 feet of sidewalk shedding - stretching more than eight miles - at 38 public housing developments around the city. Residents had long complained that the scaffolding, which often stayed up for years for no apparent reason, gave cover for criminal activity, drew piles of trash, and blocked light and security cameras. ‘They’ve made life in developments worse. They’ve made people feel less safe and secure. And, in so many cases, it wasn’t necessary – and that was the worst part,’ de Blasio said. There is still 9,966 feet of scaffolding up at NYCHA projects, but de Blasio said all of it is now around active construction sites. He pledged that in the future, sheds would only stay up while they’re in use.” [NY Daily News – 07/09/15]
  6. Brooklyn Libraries, Development and Misdirected Fear “Over the past decade, rampant construction in New York, so little of it bringing any real benefit to working people, has led to a sense of distrust in local governance and its institutions, which has, in turn, prompted its own lapses of reason. This is especially true in Brooklyn, where change has seemed to happen so quickly and where libraries have increasingly become the focus of collective anxiety surrounding all of the transformation. Last month a public meeting to discuss the proposed renovation of the Cadman Plaza branch in Brooklyn Heights exceeded five hours and became so impassioned and theatrical that a resident called it ‘a breakdown of democracy.’ Should the plan be approved, a private developer, Hudson, would rehabilitate a dilapidated building in need of $9 million in repairs, according to the Brooklyn Public Library, in exchange for the right to build condominiums on top of it and a requirement to build affordable housing in rapidly gentrifying Clinton Hill.” [New York Times – 07/10/15]
  7. What We Can Learn From Berlin’s New Rent Control Law “Berlin’s bold new rent control law—the mietpreisbremse (or, ‘rental price brake’)—is only a month old, but already it’s making Europe’s so-called ‘coolest city’ more affordable for middle- and lower-income residents. The law works by essentially capping rent neighborhood-by-neighborhood, so that landlords are prohibited from charging more than 10 percent above each district’s median rental price (new developments are exempt from the law). According to the data, the average rent for new contracts has already fallen 3.1 percent across the city. Before the law was enacted, rent typically jumped 0.3 percent per month, and from 2013 to 2014, rent rose by more than 9 percent. But could the mietpreisbremse model be applied to other large cities, like New York?” [Curbed NY – 07/12/15]
  8. NYCHA Misreported Repair Numbers, Closing Thousands of Tickets while Leaving Problems Unfixed: Audit “NYCHA officials have repeatedly fixed the numbers in the their backlog of repair requests without actually fixing the problems, according to a damning audit City Controller Scott Stringer released Monday. ‘NYCHA did not accurately report its performance to the public,’ the audit stated, finding that the agency ‘significantly understated’ the backlog and the time it takes to make repairs. The auditors found the New York City Housing Authority was able to manufacture dramatic reductions in the backlog by ‘making administrative changes in the way it categorized and closed work orders — rather than actually performing repairs more quickly.’ In 2013, his last year as mayor, Michael Bloomberg vowed to eliminate a backlog of 420,000 open repair requests from NYCHA’s beleaguered tenants, some dating back years. As of this April, NYCHA said the backlog was down to 120,000. But Stringer’s audit team discovered NYCHA has been deliberately closing thousands of repair tickets without actually fixing anything.” [NY Daily News – 07/13/15]
  9. City’s Plan for East New York Tries to Address Gentrification Fears “The Department of City Planning (DCP) says that 50 percent of the housing built over the next 15 years in East New York will be affordable to local residents. According to an Environmental Impact Study, developers could build up to 7,000 new units under the new zoning and density rules. At least half of those units would be mostly reserved for those making between $23,000 and $46,000 for a household of three. The median household income in East New York is about $32,000. The 50 percent affordability promise signifies the city’s latest step to gain support for its East New York Community Plan. Last year, Mayor de Blasio designated the long-neglected Brooklyn neighborhood as the city’s first target for affordable housing development and neighborhood revitalization. Yet many residents fear that rezoning to allow higher density is a recipe for gentrification.” [City Limits – 07/13/15]
  10. NYC Comptroller Audit: HPD Fails to Respond to Housing Emergencies in Timely Fashions “New Yorkers who call 311 because of perilous conditions in their buildings may find themselves waiting more than 24 hours before a city inspector shows up, a new audit contends. The audit by the office of Comptroller Scott Stringer found that inspectors with the Department of Housing and Preservation often failed to respond to emergency housing complaints in a timely manner over a two-year period. But HPD disputed the findings, saying ‘many factors’ affect the ‘timeliness’ of response. It also said the audit didn’t reflect the agency’s current operations. The audit, obtained exclusively by amNewYork, found that nearly 93% of ‘dire’ complaints to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development were not dealt with in the 12-hour response time the agency has set for itself.” [amNewYork – 07/09/15]
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