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US Long-term Mortgage Rates Drop

US long-term mortgage rates fell this week amid continued uncertainty about the economy’s outlook.

Mortgage rates have been running near historic lows, a potential boon to home buyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 3.57 percent from 3.65 percent last week. A year ago, the average rate stood at 4.90 percent.

The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate home loans declined this week to 3.05 percent from 3.14 percent last week.

Source – Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC

The Housing Market’s Rebound Is No Mirage

One place where the Federal Reserve’s “mid-cycle adjustment” is playing out according to script is in the housing market, which at 15% is the single-largest contributor to the U.S. economy.

Housing is the most interest-rate sensitive sector of the economy, meaning it stands to benefit more than any other from the Fed having cut its target interest rate by a half a percentage point since July. Indeed, mortgage rates have fallen by more than a percentage point over the past year in anticipation of the Fed easing, providing much needed relief to a residential real estate sector that contracted for six straight quarters through June.

The National Association of Home Builders’ Index of Traffic of Prospective Buyers turned positive in August and September, after declining in each of the previous 12 months. And August housing starts hit 1.36 million on an annualised basis, the most since June 2007. Although the bulk of the gains in starts lately have been in multifamily properties, it’s encouraging that single-family housing starts, which are viewed more favourably as a fundamental driver of economic growth, did reach a seven-month high.

And while it’s true that housing starts is a somewhat backward-looking indicator, permits to start construction came in at a 1.42-million-unit rate in August, the most since May 2007 and a sign of builders’ confidence in the outlook for sales.

The trouble with tracking the housing market is that the data on a month-to-month basis tends to be bumpy, exaggerated by fluctuations in mortgage rates and the sometimes long period between purchase and closing. Converting the monthly noise into a quarterly series and combining new and existing home sales helps glean underlying patterns.

What those new patterns show is that new and existing home sales bottomed in the last three months of 2018 at an eight-year low after falling at an 8.1% rate over the prior 12 months. Since then, they’ve steadily risen to a 3.1% year-over-year rate, the fastest pace since 2017’s first quarter. Evidence backing this strength can be seen in applications to purchase a home, which are up 10% over the last year.

A separate way to gauge the strength of housing is through what’s known as the repeat sales index, measured via the “sale pair count,” or two arms-length transaction prices for a specific home at two distinct points in time. The data to devise this is contained within the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes. The 20-City sale pair count fell 0.3% in July from a year earlier, but likely traction in August and September would snap six straight losing quarters that featured a 10.7% drop in this year’s first three months, the low for the cycle. For context, the sale pair count was up 9.1% in the first quarter of 2017.

Corroborating evidence from here on out gets murky. The Real Estate Agent series within the Producer Price Index acts as a proxy for commission growth. In the run-up to the housing bubble, this series began falling ahead of declines in home prices and the number of real estate workers. It told us what was coming. The hope is that the 3.1% read in this year’s second quarter marked the cycle low; it has since risen to 3.6%.

Some economists note that the September jobs report suggests housing is buffeted by conflicting data. Gluskin Sheff & Associates Chief Economist David Rosenberg, who called the last housing cycle ahead of his peers, cited stagnation in job growth in residential construction, home furnishings and building materials outlets. As for the “alleged rebound in the housing market,” he said “someone forgot to mention that to the realtors because we had 3,000 fewer agents on the job in September.”

Fresh data from Black Knight also question the housing turnaround story. In each of the past five months, 90-day mortgage delinquencies have been either flat or slightly up year-over-year. The Midwest floods easily explain August defaults rising 10% from the prior year in that region. But the month also saw defaults increase 8% in the south and 4.5% in the Northeast, leading Black Knight to warn that “though default activity remains historically low, this is a trend worth watching.”

On the most fundamental level, the current cycle is still beset by a dearth of entry-level homes as builders continue to gravitate toward high-end homes to offset steep labour and construction costs. This impediment will keep the trend toward renting alive, which could well suit the budget given that in September prime-age home buyers, or those aged 25 to 54 and who comprise 64% of the workforce, accounted for just 37% of the jobs created.

Perhaps the best that can be said is that the data in the service sector has been so bad, a surprise decline in the unemployment rate was not enough to derail market expectations for a third rate cut by the Fed at the end of this month. Another leg lower in mortgage rates may be the best that the housing market can hope to sustain momentum, especially if evidence of an inevitable recession continues to build.

Source – Bloomberg

‘If A Man Can Do It, A Woman Can’: Quebecer Breaking Barriers in Construction

A Canadian immigrant is breaking gender stereotypes on construction sites as she helps rebuild Quebec’s largest interchange.

Shengnan Li is helping make inroads for the massive five-year project by operating an articulated dump truck, transporting materials to and from the site.

“The road will be there for many many years and I can tell my daughter, ‘See mommy built that’,” said Li in an interview with CTV National’s Vanessa Lee.

The 35-year-old arrived in Quebec from Tianjin, China in 2007, “with two suitcases” and a diploma in computer sciences. She intended to earn a master’s degree in management.

But two weeks before graduation, she says she had a change of heart.

“I’m a girl who likes action and to try new things and some adventures and then I realized that management is not for me,” she laughed.

Turning to a job skills questionnaire, Li was matched with a heavy machinery operator — a surprise to both her and her civil engineer father.

“He works in big construction sites in Beijing and he told me ‘Oh, there’s big machinery like [an] excavator and bulldozer that maybe you can try but I cannot imagine you doing that,'” said Li.

Despite the surprising result, Li signed up for the trade program and says she hasn’t looked back since.

“The first day for me, it was a little bit scary because I’m so small, so little and the big machinery is so big, so high,” said Li. She added that “if a man can do it, a woman can do it too.”

Li was previously recognized by the Elles Committee of Quebec for her determination to break stereotypes in the construction field after working on several major projects in the province.

She said the male dominated trade is gaining more female representation every year.

“First year, I see maybe three women working here, but now it’s 17,” says Li.

According to the Quebec Construction Commission, there are currently 3,520 women in the construction trades.

Li says she is proud to be one of those women and hopes she encourages other females to join the trade.

Source – CTV NEWS

To Optimize Construction Tech, Stakeholders Must Synchronize

As most contractors become more comfortable with technology, project management solutions like Procore Project Management and Autodesk’s BIM 360 have emerged as some of the industry’s most valuable tools. As it turns out, though, the benefits of using this software can be lessened when owners adopt their own project management systems without coordinating that decision with their contractors.

This is according to the “Connecting Owners and Contractors: How Technology Drives Connected Construction” study by Dodge Data & Analytics, conducted in partnership with another project management software provider, e-Builder by Trimble. When contractors and owners use different, disconnected systems, contractors often find themselves doing double duty trying to maintain data for both, potentially sacrificing a high level of productivity and even accuracy in the flow of work in the process.

Of course, the resulting higher costs, greater risks and schedule delays that can come with having to process RFIs, invoices and submittals this way are unintended but still impactful to the owner and contractor, to their relationship and ultimately to the project’s success.

And none of this has been lost on the contractors and owners who participated in the study. Dodge and e-Builder found that:

  • 42% of contractors use both the owner’s project management system in addition to their own, which has led to higher risk as they duplicate efforts.
  • 73% of contractors report medium or high impact on the productivity of workers due to double entry of construction data, with 62% of contractors reporting that this impacts their rate of data entry errors, and 70% saying it slowed the flow of information.
  • 45% of respondents are satisfied with the current state of data connectedness, but 65% of owners and 51% of contractors see high or very high value in using a shared, collaborative data platform.

So, what are a contractor’s options here? Go along with the owner’s demands? Continue using an unwieldy system that increases the risk of errors and, potentially, litigation down the road?

“I think the findings make it clear that the contractors have already made that decision,” said Donna Laquidara-Carr, industry insights research director at Dodge. “Only 6% refuse to use the owners’ system, and the highest percentage (42%) believe double entry, despite the pain it causes, is the best solution.”

Having ready access to the owner’s information does provide some benefits, like increased transparency and getting paid faster, but Laquidara-Carr said the best of both worlds would see contractors and owners be able to reap the benefits of being connected without having to engage in the double entry of information.

But if contractors aren’t happy about being required to use the owner’s project management information system (PMIS), they should speak up about how difficult such a setup can potentially be, said Laquidara-Carr.  “[The study] clearly revealed that many owners are unaware of the challenges that contractors face when forced to use an owner’s PMIS rather than their own, with 45% saying that contractors face no increased risk in doing so. Contractors must be able to have these conversations with the owner for owners to understand the impact.”

The integration of data is something that many tech companies like Procore and Autodesk are focusing on, and Chris Bell, vice president of marketing at e-Builder, said the company can now offer that convenience with e-Builder Enterprise for owners and Trimble Project Sight for contractors. “[These two solutions] can integrate,” he said, “to become one construction management platform for a project and allow information exchange between systems so that each party can own their own data.”

Source – ConstructionDive

Michael Bennet Tries to Break Through With Affordable Housing Plan

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet is angling to get voters’ attention—and boost his idling presidential campaign—by taking on one of Americans’ most visceral concerns: the rent is too dang high.

Bennet, the U.S. Senator from Colorado, unveiled a plan Thursday that would tackle the national housing shortage, saying he would invest in building millions of new affordable housing units across the country and expand a housing assistance program for poor Americans. Nearly half of renters in America currently spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and many of them have no alternative as the country faces a national shortage of 7 million affordable homes.

“A home is a platform for stability and upward mobility in America, but for too many families, owning a home is out of reach and the high cost of paying rent has pushed them to a breaking point,” Bennet said in a statement.

Bennet’s plan comes just a week before the next Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio on Oct. 15. He has been polling around 1 percent and did not qualify for either the Ohio debate or the previous one in Houston, Texas on Sept. 12. He has said he plans to stay in the 2020 race until at least the New Hampshire primary in February.

 

Bennet’s housing plan includes a collection of ideas aimed at helping people low- and middle-income families pay for homes and creating more affordable housing in neighbourhoods with opportunities for job growth, good schools and transportation.

Just one out of every four people eligible for housing subsidies from the federal government currently gets assistance, Bennet’s campaign said. His plan would slowly expand the federal voucher program over 15 years to fully meet the need.

Bennet’s plan also aims to help those who want to buy homes by creating a refundable mortgage down payment tax credit and expanding credit access for small mortgages, which could help families in smaller or high-poverty areas.

A central component of Bennet’s plan is the creation of new affordable housing units so that people have more choices on where to live. It would invest $430 billion in creating nearly 3 million units over the next 10 years through the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund, the Colorado Senator’s plan says. Some of Bennet’s fellow Democratic candidates, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, also include these investments in their housing plans — but both Warren and Sanders would invest more money in creating new housing.

Bennet would also launch pilot grants for regional housing budgets, increase funding for rural housing and increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to encourage communities to build more affordable housing in desirable areas.

The Colorado Senator’s plan would cost significantly less overall than what other candidates have proposed on housing, according to his campaign. This stands in particular contrast to Sanders, who last month announced a housing plan that called for spending nearly $2 trillion on new housing and proposed a national rent control standard.

But Bennet is still banking on his brand of more moderate reform.

“As a former superintendent, I know how important it is for kids to have a stable home so they can show up to school ready to learn and succeed. Slogans like national rent control won’t solve the problem,” Bennet said, referencing Sanders’ plan. “We need to build more homes near good jobs and good schools and ensure people can actually afford them. That’s the bottom line for creating opportunity for all Americans.”

Other candidates such Sen. Cory Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have emphasized racial justice when introducing their housing policies, and Kamala Harris aimed her plan specifically at fixing the racial home ownership gap. Bennet’s plan also addresses housing segregation by creating a $10 billion grant program to aid communities to eliminate exclusionary zoning laws or other regulations that have historically kept people of color from accessing housing.

The Senator has also released plans addressing climate change, education and healthcare, all of which have yet to deliver that much-needed boost to his campaign.

Source – TIME

Need to Address Unemployment, Illiquidity to Increase Mortgage Access

The underlining principle of mortgage in Nigeria and any other country in the world states that a loan seeker must have a regular flow of income, which presupposes that such a person must be in paid employment or be self-employed.

Having a job is pertinent in accessing mortgage. But in Nigeria, many people, especially young Nigerians are not employed. Indeed, youth unemployment in the country is a major social challenge in the country and the level is quite high.

At 23.1 per cent in the third quarter (Q3) of 2018, up from 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017, Nigeria has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and the figures put out by Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its Q3 2018 report confirm this.

The report explains that “Of the 20.9 million persons classified as unemployed as at Q3 2018, 11.1 million did some form of work but for too few hours a week (under 20 hours) to be officially classified as employed while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing.

“Of the 9.7 million unemployed that did absolutely nothing as at Q3 2018, 90.1 percent of them or 8.77 million were reported to be unemployed and doing nothing because they were first time job seekers and have never worked before”.

Apart from clarity of process, accessibility and affordability are major constraints that have denied many aspiring young and old Nigerians the opportunity of either building or buying homes. Mortgage is not accessible because many people, as pointed out above, are out of job.

Adeniyi Akinlusi, CEO, Trustbond Mortgage Bank, puts it straight that, though the ability of the banks to provide money for mortgage has changed on account of credit challenges in the financial system, mortgage affordability or the fundamentals for lending have not changed.

Technically speaking, there is no mortgage of any form in Nigeria. This is because the interest rate charged is no different from the commercial rate. Mortgage lenders still anchor their loans on good jobs that attract fat monthly salary, meaning that a mortgage loan seeker is still expected to be somebody in a good job or private business with an assured, fat and regular income stream.

Though there is a new mortgage law otherwise called uniform underwriting standard for the informal sector, it is left to evaluate how impacting the new law has been on mortgage lending and home-ownership. The income of some of these informal sector operators can hardly be measured and, so, can hardly be controlled in a formal way.

As against the six percent interest rate and repayment tenor of between 25 and 30 years, depending on the borrower’s age, mortgage lenders in this country charge between 17 percent and 22 percent interest rate on mortgage loans with a repayment tenor as short as 12-24 months. The tenor also depends on the level of risk associated with either the loan or the borrower or both.

Because of this, the ever widening housing demand supply gap can easily be blamed on the commercial interest rate charged on mortgage loans which makes such loans hardly affordable to home loan seekers.

The mortgage industry does not operate in isolation of the economy. Certainly, as an integral part of the economy, it has to be affected by the economic crisis in the country today. A good number of people who were in employment before now do not have jobs again because of the downturn in the economy.

In spite of this, mortgage operators insist that the fundamentals for lending have not changed, which means that if somebody has a good job with a financial institution or a multinational company, and the pay package is high enough for him to afford a mortgage, the economic crisis has not changed that affordability.

The past few years have seen quite a number of mortgage products aimed at enabling subscribers own their own homes, but these products are yet to help reduce existing housing gap by increasing housing stock. The reason is simple. The products, like the mortgage loans, are hardly accessed by those who need them and, according to mortgage operators, those mortgage products are not the ones that will make any impact on housing.

“The mortgage products that we have today are commercial mortgages which the investor wants to recover his money from. It is just like someone else who has invested in any other venture. He has to recover his money because he borrows from the same place like you”, an operator who did not want to be named, noted.

Mortgage products can make impact on housing only when there is government intervention and, anywhere else in the world, there is government intervention to make mortgage affordable to everybody, no matter the income level.

As obtains in other societies, mortgage could be used to move the economy from being import- dependent to a producing and exporting country and Akinlusi says mortgage institutions need long term loans for housing finance. When there are enough funds to lend to property developers and to home seekers, the entire economy will be stimulated.

By the time there are enough funds in the hands of mortgage institutions for long term loans to property developers, there will be a lot of property construction activities and when these happen, a lot of other activities will be generated and the economy will be better for it.

Engineers, architects, bricklayers, casual labourers and even food vendors will be automatically engaged by a single development in one corner of the city, and it is unimaginable what is possible when there are many of such developments going on at various parts of the country. The long term effect is the development of industries and factories that produce building materials such as cement, rods, roofing materials, wooden materials etc.

Ultimately, this will impact on the wider economy and your guess is as good as mine as to what follows when people have enough capital at their disposal. Definitely, investment is the next line of thought and, depending on the prevailing business environment and government policies, people will invest in many asset classes including real estate.

Public Housing Submissions Over New Dublin Suburb Rejected

Submissions to have a new Dublin suburb development of nearly 3,000 homes consist entirely of public housing have been rejected by council planners.

Councillors passed a Local Area Plan (LAP) Park West-Cherry Orchard allowing apartment blocks up to 10 storeys high over a 46 hectare area in the west of the city .

The monthly meeting heard that up 2,920 apartments and houses could be built in eight separate sites and density could be increased further by the use of shared accommodation or build to rent schemes.

Local People Before Profit representatives wanted all the units to be public housing while Sinn Féin wanted private housing to make up just 10%.

However Chief Executive Owen Keegan said the original scheme which was adopted by the council specifically aimed to provide private housing as a way of improving the balance of tenure and income.

He said that at the moment the area has just 26% owner occupier and 6% private rental which means less opportunity to buy or rent in the area.

“The correlation with economic status and disposable income also has an impact on the ability to sustain commercial shops and services, essential to meet the local demands of everyone,” he stated.

The different tenures in the LAP will include 10% social, affordable/co-operative housing, housing for senior citizens, special needs, private housing and cost-rental.

Source – RTE

Boston’s Public Housing Goes Private: Why the City is Teaming Up With Developers.

Emilia Perez moved to the Orient Heights public housing development in East Boston in the ’90s, and she looked forward to a possible revamp of the property.

“I was happy every time people would say, ‘Oh, they be doing the new buildings,'” she says.

That redevelopment — the demolition and rebuilding of 331 public housing units — is finally underway. Perez moved to a different part of Orient Heights during the first phase of construction, and some of her neighbors decided not to move back in when their new homes were completed, she says.

But now Perez has a new townhouse with built-in air conditioning and a good kitchen — which is important, because she likes to cook.

“I like what I see,” she says of the reconstruction so far. “Everybody wants something new.”

In this case, Trinity Financial, a private developer, is doing the construction, not the Boston Housing Authority, the agency in charge of the city’s public housing. The company has undertaken similar projects for several other BHA sites.

The Orient Heights project is part of a years-long trend in Boston, and across the country, in which public housing authorities partner with outside developers.

Why Team Up With Private Companies?

A lack of federal funding has changed the way the BHA operates, says Kate Bennett, the agency’s senior deputy administrator for redevelopment projects.

“We will never see the kind of federal dollars we’ll need to transform those sites,” she says, referring to large developments like Bunker Hill, the system’s biggest. Bennett estimates the reconstruction project there will cost upwards of $1.5 billion.

So the BHA sought private developers and nonprofits to bankroll these construction projects, leveraging the value of the land to attract potential partners, Bennett says. Many cities across the country have adopted the same public/private approach, which is often called mixed-finance redevelopment.

The BHA has already redeveloped several properties this way, including Roxbury’s Orchard Gardens (formerly Orchard Park) and Washington Beech in Roslindale. In those examples, square brick buildings closed off from the rest of the neighborhood have been transformed into colorful apartments, crisscrossed by public streets.

Some developments, like Maverick Landing in East Boston, were transformed from pure public housing to a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments. Bunker Hill, Mildred C. Hailey in Jamaica Plain and Whittier Street in Roxbury will all open up to different income levels as part of their overhauls.

In previous projects, the BHA did not always replace all the affordable units lost during redevelopment, Bennett says. The agency’s current projects, though, will include at least as many affordable units as each development had before the revamp.

Who’s Doing The Construction?

With mixed-finance redevelopments, outside companies oversee construction and the day-to-day management of the site, and collect the rent that tenants pay. The BHA retains ownership of the land.

Three nonprofit developers — the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, The Community Builders and Urban Edge — have teamed up to rehab the Amory Street and Mildred C. Hailey (formerly known as Bromley-Heath) developments in Jamaica Plain.

Amory Street is currently undergoing renovations. Parts of Mildred C. Hailey are slated to be razed in the next few years.

Marty Jones, the interim CEO of Urban Edge, lists the problems at Hailey: Elevators are constantly out of service, forcing residents to walk up and down many stairs; heating systems are outdated and inefficient; doors need modern security systems.

“It’s very hard to retrofit these old buildings to accommodate the things that are really needed today,” she says.

So the nonprofits decided to start from scratch, with a vision of breaking up the isolated “superblocks” of public housing and opening up the neighborhood to public streets.

But there’s more to fix than just physical problems, says Jones.

“Not only were these buildings identifiable when you drive by them, when a child goes to school, and someone sees their address as an address that they know is Mildred Hailey, they know that child is from a low-income family,” Jones says. “And unfortunately, prejudice and other kinds of biases start to come up.”

Jones says one goal of Mildred C. Hailey’s transformation into a mixed-income community is to get rid of those class identifiers. The redevelopment plan proposes the replacement of 250 public housing units and the addition of about 360 affordable and market-rate units.

The reconstruction process is designed to keep current residents in the neighborhood. The new buildings will go up first, so current residents can move in. Then the old buildings will be demolished. Jones says the plan is for construction and demolition to start in the next few years.

Planning For The Future

The renovation and redevelopment projects currently underway will add 441 new affordable rental units to the city’s housing stock, according to BHA spokesman Brian Jordan. That number doesn’t include upcoming redevelopments like Mildred C. Hailey.

But there are 47,000 families on the waiting list for public housing in Boston, the BHA’s Bennett says — a symptom of the lack of affordable housing in the city.

“It’s been staggering for many, many years,” says Bennett. “The reality is, we can’t add very many. As it is, assembling the financing just to replace what we have, bring what we have forward for another generation — I mean, there are staggering needs.”

If funding to renovate buildings is hard to come by, so is funding to keep the existing units affordable. That’s why some BHA developments will transition to new funding models.

Some developments will start using modified Section 8 funding — a type of federal affordable housing subsidy that Bennett says is more stable because it has more bipartisan support in Congress.

The BHA has also learned how to make money through its partnerships with private companies, Bennett adds.

“In the early days, we would simply donate the land to the project,” Bennett says, whereas today, the BHA leases the land to developers.

The BHA’s redevelopment projects are scheduled to continue into the 2020s, bringing major changes to a system that started in the 1930s.

“BHA as an agency will own and manage directly fewer units,” Bennett says. “But my hope is that — and our goal is that — we are continuing to preserve every unit and that we’re continuing to improve every unit.”

Source – Bostonomix

Foreign Investment in Real Estate Nearly Doubles in Greece in 2019

According to official data published recently by the Bank of Greece, foreign investment in Greek real estate grew by a stunning 94.6 percent during the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year.

Between January and June of 2019, more than €736 million was invested by non-Greek nationals in the country’s real estate market.

This becomes even more impressive if we take into consideration that 2018 already was a record-breaking year for Greek real estate, as it recorded a jaw-dropping 172-percent increase over the numbers for 2017, reaching €1.72 billion.

Since the total of direct foreign investments in Greece totalled a mere 4.25 billion euros in 2018, it is clear that real estate investment attracts nearly a quarter of all foreign investment in the country.

The rapid development of short-term-renting platforms such as Airbnb, along with the increase in tourism to Greece and the country’s steady path to economic recovery, has played a crucial role in this positive trend.

Approximately four out of five non-Greek real estate investors are other EU nationals, with Germans, Dutch, British, French, and Italians among the top.

The remaining 20 percent of the investors, who are not EU nationals, are mainly comprised of Russians, Chinese and citizens of Arab countries.

The Greek government’s recent announcement that it will cease imposing a 24-percent VAT on real estate for a span of three years is expected to boost the already rapidly-expanding sector even further.

Source – Greek Reporter

Madison Finance Committee Recommends $4.1 Million for Affordable Housing

The Madison Finance Committee on Monday unanimously recommended providing $4.1 million to help fund three affordable housing projects on the East and Far West sides.

Committee members also delayed a vote on a $40 vehicle registration fee Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has proposed as part of her 2019 operating budget and wants implemented early next year, and heard criticisms of her $340.4 million spending plan from residents concerned about the impact it would have on the Madison Police Department.

The three affordable housing developments would leverage $3.225 million from the city’s Affordable Housing fund and $900,000 in federal funds to create about 200 affordable housing units:

  • Up to $1.7 million for a 111-unit apartment complex with 94 affordable units by MSP Real Estate Inc. at 1212 Huxley St.
  • Up to $1.4 million for an 87-unit apartment complex with 73 affordable units by Age Better Inc. and Gorman & Co. at 8552 Elderberry Road.
  • Up to $1.025 million for a 38-unit apartment complex with 32 affordable units by Movin’ Out Inc. at 2340 Winnebago St.

Jim O’Keefe, the city’s community development director, said all of the affordable units would be for those with incomes at or below 60% of the county median income, or $49,560 for a family of three, but that some units would be affordable for those at 50% or 30% of the county median income.

Budget concerns

Criticisms of the mayor’s budget proposal on Monday centered around its lack of funding to hire more police officers and its plan to move parking enforcement officers out of the Police Department and into the city’s Parking Utility.

In July, former Police Chief Mike Koval said keeping police staffing flat will necessitate moving 12 positions back into regular patrol from units focused on neighborhood policing, gangs and other proactive work.

“I’m here to ask for more police officers to be added to the operating budget,” said resident Wendy Reichel. She said forcing more officers to go on patrol will negatively impact police-community relations, reduce traffic stops for speeding or running red lights, and make neighborhoods less safe.

Rebecca Mugford, a parking enforcement officer, said she feared how her job would be affected if she were employed by the Parking Utility instead of the Police Department.

Kelly Powers, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, said being housed under the Police Department gives parking officers access to important tools including the police radio and databases used to identify people, vehicle ownership and property.

Powers said losing those tools would put parking enforcement officers in a “compromised position.”

Parking enforcement officer Michael Parker said losing the tools would prevent him from identifying stolen vehicles. He said he found 50 last year.

Walt Jackson, vice president of the City of Madison Employees Association, which includes parking officers, said this is how the majority of stolen vehicles are found. He also noted that parking officers are part of the “family of MPD.”

The committee will finish hearing budget presentations from city departments on Thursday, and will then get a chance to propose amendments to the budget. Thursday is also when it will take up the wheel tax. Rhodes-Conway would like to see the timeline for implementing the fee accelerated so that the city could begin collecting it in February.

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