Top News and Updates
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against JPMorgan Chase, accusing the bank of discriminating against minority borrowers by charging them with higher rates and fees on home mortgage loans between 2006 and 2009. (Reuters, January 18) Also this week, the DOJ officially reached settlement agreements involving residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) with Deutsche Bank and Moody's over activities leading up to the financial crisis. The settlement with Deutsche Bank totaled $7.2 billion (the largest RMBS settlement for a single entity), $4.1 billion of which will go toward relief for distressed borrowers, underwater homeowners and their communities. Moody's settlement totaled $864 million. (DS News, January 17 & DOJ, January 17)
The San Francisco Chronicle looks at the insufficiency of family housing in San Francisco. According to the San Francisco Planning Department, less than 10 percent of the city's housing units built during the past 10 years are large units with three or more bedrooms, and only 30 percent of those units are occupied by families with children. Housing advocates emphasize the importance of having a clear definition of family housing that would guide conversations between city officials and developers. (San Francisco Chronicle, January 17)
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)
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.
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)