Obama Unveils New Rules Against Housing Segregation | Group Challenges NYC on Housing Allocations

July 10th 2015

Photo Credit: Christian K. Lee/Associated Press

  1. Obama Unveils Stricter Rules Against Segregation in Housing “The Obama administration announced an aggressive effort on Wednesday to reduce the racial segregation of residential neighborhoods. It unveiled a new requirement that cities and localities account for how they will use federal housing funds to reduce racial disparities, or face penalties if they fail. The new rules are an effort to enforce the goals of the civil rights-era fair housing law that bans overt residential discrimination, but whose broader mandate for communities to actively foster integration has not been realized.” [New York Times – 07/08/15]
  2. Group Challenges New York City on Housing Allocations “A fair-housing group filed a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging New York City’s practice of allotting half of its new affordable-housing units to residents of particular communities, a move that could upend Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable-housing plan. The lawsuit, filed by the New York-based Anti-Discrimination Center, alleges that the citywide policy of ‘community preference’ violates the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination in housing sales, rentals and financing based on race or national origin. Supporters of community preference, including most fair-housing advocates, developers and community groups, say it mitigates the displacement that gentrification can prompt, allowing low-income residents to benefit from neighborhood improvements that come with newer housing.” [Wall Street Journal – 07/07/15]
  3. Vouchers Help Families Move Far From Public Housing “Families in Dallas who qualify for housing subsidies are offered more money if they move to more expensive neighborhoods, allowing them to live in safe communities and enroll their children in schools that are otherwise beyond reach. To sharpen the prod, the government has also cut subsidies for those who do not go. The Obama administration has taken a deep interest in the research of the Harvard economist Raj Chetty, who has shown that where children grow up shapes their prospects as an adult, and the proposed expansion of the Dallas experiment is an early instance of the ways in which Mr. Chetty’s findings are changing public policy.” [New York Times – 07/07/15]
  4. NYCHA to Announce Sites for Mixed Income Development on Public Housing Land in August “The troubled New York City Housing Authority revealed to reporters today that it would announce the first round of requests-for-proposals from developers looking to build 50/50 market rate/affordable buildings on parcels of the authority’s land—a crucial step toward balancing NYCHA’s infamously strapped finances and contributing toward Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing plan. At a press briefing at NYCHA’s downtown offices, a spokeswoman told the press that it remained unclear whether the initial phase of RFPs will be for vacant lots on two, three or four of the authority’s 328 public housing developments. The construction will be part of the de Blasio administration’s kitchen-sink ‘NextGeneration’ plan intended to turn the authority from running hundred million yearly operating deficits to running equally large annual surpluses—and the authority continued to refuse to confirm or deny whether it would sell parcels to the developers of the mixed-income buildings.” [Observer – 07/08/15]
  5. In NYC’s Ultra-Pricey Rental Market, Supply and Demand Doesn’t Mean a Thing “As a resident of the borough of Queens in New York City, I’ve been watching the skyline near me explode in recent years. In 2014, barely a decade after a major rezoning of Queens’ Long Island City, Curbed counted 26 residential towers there that were either under construction or had been built within a year. Those towers added more than 8,600 apartments, with 22,000 currently in planning or construction, according to the Long Island City Partnership—and, mind you, that’s just one tiny section of Queens. Add that to all the buildings going up in the city’s other four boroughs and it sounds like priced-out renters will finally be seeing some relief. After all, Economics 101 teaches us the law of supply and demand: More units mean lower prices. Right?” [Realtor.com – 07/08/15]
  6. For Homeless Families, Quick Exit From Shelters Is Only A Temporary Fix “More than 150,000 U.S. families are homeless each year. The number has been going down, in part because of a program known as rapid rehousing, which quickly moves families out of shelters and into homes. But new research by the Obama administration finds that for many families, rapid rehousing is only a temporary fix. It seemed like a good idea back in 2009 — when the recession had pushed thousands of families into homelessness. Rather than stay in shelters, families would get rental assistance for a few months — maybe a year — until they could get back on their feet.” [NPR – 07/07/15]
  7. Sometimes, Defaulting on a Mortgage Is a Smart Decision “Defaulting on debt is a pretty scary proposition. Whether it’s a credit card, student loans, or a mortgage, failing to pay comes with some serious consequences: damaged credit, inability to open new accounts, and even legal action. Because of this, people will generally do anything within their power to avoid default. But during the financial crisis, that wasn’t always the case. As Americans watched their home values spiral downward, some made a choice to simply stop paying their mortgages, even when they were still technically able to make the payments. That choice is called strategic default and a recent study from researchers at the New York Federal Reserve suggests why some families utilized this option during the recession: For some, this was actually a smart financial decision, one that helped stave off other, potentially problematic credit problems.” [The Atlantic – 07/09/15]
  8. Obama Plan Would Give Poor Easier Access to Solar Energy “The Obama administration on Tuesday announced an initiative to help low- and middle-income Americans gain access to solar energy, part of a series of steps President Obama is taking to tackle climate change, according to administration officials. The administration said it intends to triple the capacity of solar and other renewable energy systems it installs in federally subsidized housing by 2020, make it easier for homeowners to borrow money for solar improvements and start a nationwide program to help renters gain access to solar energy, the officials said.” [New York Times – 07/07/15]
  9. Loft Tenants Get Another Shot at Legalizing Their Homes “As state legislators hashed out new deals for rent-stabilization laws and 421a tax breaks for developers in recent weeks, they also re-opened the window for applications under the city’s 2010 Loft Law — which had closed in March 2014 — and will keep it open for two years. That law allows tenants (and landlords) to apply to the New York City Loft Board to legalize their rentals even though they were not previously zoned as living spaces if at least three units were occupied by tenants for 12 consecutive months in 2008 and 2009 and the units remain occupied today.” [DNAinfo – 07/08/15]
  10. New York City Takes Steps to Increase the Safety of Employees at Homeless Shelters “The Department of Homeless Services has increased security at some shelters, conducted on-site security assessments, and met with shelter directors and staff members to address their concerns. It has also worked to expand reporting and monitoring of violence and other disruptions at shelters, and to develop a new safety training curriculum for all shelter and program workers. City officials have also set up an interagency task force to examine efforts to provide shelter to high-risk populations, which include people who exhibit serious mental illness and violent behavior. The task force will have representatives from homeless services; the health, hospitals, police, probation and correction departments; and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.” [New York Times – 07/06/15]
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