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An investigation by HUD finds that the city of Houston has perpetuated segregation by allowing neighborhood opposition to affordable housing developments dictate where they are built. The investigation was initiated after Mayor Sylvester Turner rejected an affordable housing proposal by the Houston Housing Authority that faced fierce opposition from neighbors. In addition, HUD has issued a list of remedies and corrective actions it expects from the city, including providing funds to supplement the construction costs of the proposed affordable housing building or relocating it to another low-minority, high-opportunity neighborhood. (Houston Press, January 16)
Today, HUD published an implementation notice for several of the provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA), which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama in July 2016. The provisions specifically impact the Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Voucher programs. HUD's notice seeks additional public input on the proposed implementation requirements and future changes to these programs. Comments are due March 20, 2017. (Federal Register, January 18)
The New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) is seeking developers to buy stakes in some 1,700 public housing units in Brooklyn and the Bronx under the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. NYCHA officials say the buildings need $350 million of maintenance and will receive upgrades including new elevators and boilers and renovated kitchens, bathrooms and lobbies. By working with private investors through RAD, NYCHA can perform needed repairs that it otherwise could not afford. (The Wall Street Journal, January 18) In a press statement from NYCHA, Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader at Enterprise, says, "This expansion of NYCHA's preservation plan through the creative use of public-private partnerships will change its financial trajectory, bring much-needed renovations, and improve the quality of life for thousands of residents, all while maintaining affordability and resident rights." (NYCHA, January 18)
Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture announced a pilot program that will give participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) a way to purchase their groceries online. The two-year trial provides low-income families in seven states with a system to have SNAP-eligible items delivered to their homes through retailers like FreshDirect, Amazon, Safeway and ShopRite and to pay for them using federal benefits. While a number of factors could prove challenging, such as consumer habits, associated costs and internet access, this program (if expanded nationally) could provide the more than 43 million Americans who receive SNAP assistance greater access to healthier food. (The Atlantic CityLab, January 17) Learn more about strategies for improving access to healthy foods in Enterprise's 2014 report Food at Home: Affordable Housing as a Platform to Overcome Nutritional Challenges.
An article from NPR looks at how longtime residents of the Shaw neighborhood in Washington, D.C., have experienced gentrification. According to the article, the percentage of black residents in Shaw dropped from 78 to 44 percent between 1980 and 2010, and the median home price and average family income increased significantly over the past 15 years. The article suggests that rising home prices can generate wealth for long-term homeowners who decide to sell their homes; however, they can also limit the availability of affordable housing in the neighborhood and cause displacement. In addition, the article emphasizes that many long-term residents who have not been physically displaced by gentrification struggle to find a sense of community with the flow of new residents. (NPR, January 16)
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