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Is America Finally Waking Up to Its Government-Created Housing Crisis?

Is housing policy having a libertarian moment? One could be mistaken for believing so after scanning the mainstream media’s coverage of the issue over the past couple of days.

Today, The New York Times published an exhaustive analysis of zoning in 10 U.S. cities, showing how these locales are making housing artificially expensive by restricting the construction of apartments within city limits and suburban homes at their urban fringes.

On Monday, Washington Post columnist Charles Lane argued the same basic point, even calling out the liberal politicians who are happily presiding over these restrictive regulatory regimes.

In the cities with the worst affordability problems, Lane writes, “Democrats are the party of government, but the housing crisis is in large part government-created.”

“Blue American cities and counties need new rental housing, but local zoning, building codes, approval processes, and other regulations…hinder construction,” he adds.

Even The New York Times Editorial Board—hardly a friend of unfettered free markets—is on board with this narrative. “The United States is suffering from an acute shortage of affordable places to live,” reads their Saturday editorial. “Perhaps the most important reason is that local governments are preventing construction.”

That zoning reform and housing deregulation have rapidly become salient mainstream issues is encouraging. More heartening still is that much of this media attention is responding to successful reform efforts already underway.

Both the Times’ news story and weekend editorial devote a lot of space to discussing Minneapolis, where in December, the city council voted to allow two- and three-unit homes citywide. Previously, 70 percent of residential land was zoned for single-family homes.

In a handful of other places, municipal and state laws are starting to move in this more free market direction.

In March, the Seattle City Council upzoned 27 separate neighborhoods across the city, allowing for the construction of denser residential and commercial buildings. Currently working its way through neighboring Oregon’s legislature is a bill that would ban single-family zoning in almost every community in the state.

These reforms all have their flaws, but they are nonetheless moving policy in the right direction.

Of course, as we learned with the other libertarian moment, one must be careful not to interpret a few positive examples as an unstoppable national trend. For every zoning reform effort that’s succeeded, another has sputtered. Meanwhile, counterproductive policies that threaten to undercut future development are gaining ground.

Even as Oregon looks to legalize denser housing (while leaving its urban growth boundaries mercifully untouched), it has also become the first state to adopt a statewide rent control policy.

New York followed in its wake just last week, passing a slew of new regulations that make it harder to raise rents at rent-stabilized apartments in New York City, while allowing all cities in the state to adopt rent control policies.

California is hurtling in that direction as well. A statewide rent control bill managed to pass the state Assembly in May. It now heads to the state Senate, where another bill allowing for the construction of more apartment buildings near transit stops stalled a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the Golden State continues to produce a trickle of stories about housing developments being stalled over concerns that they’ll cast too many shadows or kill too many birds.

Part of the explanation, perhaps, is that problems of housing affordability were allowed to fester for so long that more extreme, albeit counterproductive, measures like rent control can seem like a good way of responding to immediate pain. In addition, good ideas will always have to contend with well-entrenched interests like homeowners and anti-gentrification activists, both of whom cast a skeptical eye at any effort to loosen zoning rules.

Nevertheless, the country’s housing woes are being talked about and the correct solutions are being identified; that’s cause for a little bit of cautious optimism.

Source: reason

Three Times Citizens Mobilised to put Affordable Housing on the Political Agenda

From Amsterdam to Manila, Ljubljana to Wellington, the rapid growth of property prices in cities is shutting many people out of home ownership and driving up inequality. There are plenty of ways for governments to deliver more affordable housing, including house-building programmes, taxation, planning and land use regulations. Yet their responses often fall short: government definitions of “affordable” homes aren’t affordable for most, help-to-buy subsidies cause prices to rise further and efforts to boost housing supply fall short of targets.

One notable failure occurred in April 2019, when the New Zealand government backtracked on a proposed capital gains tax aimed at tempering speculation in the housing market. New Zealand has a strong case for action: house prices are the third most expensive in the world, the homelessness rate is the highest in the OECD and a quarter of children live below the poverty line – typically in poorly-insulated and overcrowded housing.

But the opposition deemed the tax to be an assault on the “Kiwi way of life”, the media backlash was unyielding, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised never to pass the policy, while in leadership.

The politics of affordable housing

Failures like this are usually explained by a lack of “political will”. But this excuse simply sidesteps the biggest challenge for politicians: building consensus behind major reforms for the public good. All too often, government decisions to act (or not) are more about maintaining economic and political stability – preferably until the next election. Unless citizens lead strong campaigns to demand action, such reforms will remain in the “too hard” box.

The lack of affordable housing is not a crisis for everyone. Property owners have benefited significantly from the rapid growth in prices, creating highly unequal benefits across class, race and generational divides. Investing in housing is also a cultural norm: many Western cultures see it is as good financial sense to get on the property ladder early, and eventually sell at a much higher price to realise a healthy financial return.

This means that many Western countries have a large cohort of voters who are counting on house price growth – even when that shuts people out of the housing market altogether.

Making change happen

Yet in cities around the world, movements led by citizens are building power to counter these challenges. Here are three examples that show how support can be mobilised, when governments are slow to act.

1. Organising grassroots movements in Berlin

Grassroots movements have a long history in cities, and a recent case from Berlin is instructive. Berlin has a high proportion of renters (85%), and until the mid-2000s, it had a large stock of publicly-owned housing. After public housing was sold off to private investors in the mid-2000s, tenants faced rapid rent increases and significant issues with maintenance and repair.

Private companies bought public housing on a large scale – the largest landlord, Deutsche Wohnen, owns around 110,000 units in Berlin. Initial efforts by tenants associations to oppose this were no match for the scale of the problem, so they co-ordinated to form the civic movement Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen (“Expropriate Deuts

The movement demands a referendum that could ultimately allow the municipality to renationalise housing belonging to landlords with more than 3,000 units. This directly confronts the powerful real estate sector, and has great potential to mobilise popular support in a city where renters are the majority. At the time of publication, their petition had more than 77,000 signatures.

2. Building coalitions with technical professions – planners in 1960s New York

Coalitions are the basic unit of urban politics. Building alliances around common agendas is a powerful way to mobilise resources, knowledge and political support. This even extends to professionals like architects and planners, who have historically engaged with communities to advocate for change.

The Urban Underground is a prominent movement that developed from New York’s Department of City Planning in the late 1960s. City planners realised that the profession had been co-opted into regeneration schemes that systematically pushed out black populations and the poor. Protests by local communities and professionals shone a light on these darker aspects of city planning.

Today, some planners are just as complicit in systems that profit real estate developers while causing gentrification and displacement. But with their experience in the system, planning professionals have the power to form a link between the diverse groups affected by unaffordable housing.

3. Demanding system change with a Green New Deal

The last strategy takes inspiration from the US New Deal, which overhauled the economy and social services in the 1930s. The Green New Deal draws from this approach by demanding fundamental changes to the economic system and building support around a vision for the future to resolve trade-offs between economic, social and environmental policies.

The Green New Deal bundles climate action with green jobs, affordable housing and economic justice. Linking climate action to housing might seem unexpected, but in fact it’s central to goals of economic and social justice. It could also be a genius move to wrap housing into the growing political momentum behind climate agendas.

Each of these movements show how change can happen, even when governments are reluctant to take political risks. When communities build support around a vision for housing that works for all – including indigenous populations, people of colour and people living in poverty – they can forge a path for governments to follow.

Source: theconversation

Spain Is Latest Battleground for Global Affordable Housing

The effort by Spain’s Socialist government to control apartment rents in one of the developed world’s more buoyant real estate markets is off to a rocky start.

In May, two months after imposing a battery of rent-suppression measures for new leases, rents rose at a 7.5% annual pace, according to property website Idealista.com, which supplies data to Spain’s central bank. That was an acceleration from 6.6% in March when the measures were enacted.

The new rules for privately owned apartments in Spain’s $5.8 trillion home market were meant in part to counteract speculation and conversion into Airbnb-type rentals. Tourist flats now exceed a quarter of the sunny, beach-filled Andalucia market and total 18% in Catalonia, the region of Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city and a foreign-investor magnet, according to property website Fotocasa.

From Berlin to New York, governments are wrestling with how to keep tenants from being priced out of their neighborhoods. Fingers point at stagnant wage growth, moribund government support, international buyers and surging purchase prices. These are some of the hallmarks of 21st century urban housing markets, and they are proving to be an unprecedented challenge for governments struggling to fix them with regulations.

N.Y. Adopts Sweeping Tenant Protections on Rents, Evictions

Berlin is going even further than Spain, with plans to freeze rents for five years and give tenants the opportunity to demand reductions if rents are determined to be too high. German real estate stocks slid after the program was announced.

Similar measures are being contemplated across Europe and the world. In New York, state legislators just completed the biggest rewrite of rent regulations in decades, eliminating most tools landlords have used to raise regulated rents.

In Spain, the new rules limit annual rent increases for five years to the inflation rate, currently 0.8%. That’s not happy news for landlords, although after that period is over they can raise, or lower, them as they wish, in a new contract. The prices quoted by Idealista reflect what landlords are asking for in new contracts.

Berlin Plans Five-Year Rent Freeze Over Housing-Crunch Anger

Spain’s housing secretary Helena Beunza says rental rates will begin moderating as the state creates more affordable housing, and when new contracts kick in with the five-year caps, up from three years previously. The government is also devising new public-private partnerships and reference prices for tax deductions for landlords who don’t overcharge, she said in an interview. The new cap is seven years for institutional owners like Blackstone Group LP, which bought Spanish homes when the market was plagued by overbuilding.

“The big institutional investors are specialists, they’re opportunistic and will focus on where the outlook and conditions are most favorable,” said Joe Lovrics, who runs Citigroup Inc.’s Iberia markets desk in Madrid. “They look at these rules and say: ‘If this is permanent, we’ll look elsewhere.”’

In fact, the Development Ministry in Madrid plans more regulations. Economists are divided on whether the limits will backfire.

While some insist they will restrain hikes indefinitely, many say landlords will react by starting new contracts at higher initial rents, or converting more property into short-term Airbnb-type rentals, eliminating supply for permanent residents and driving up rents.

More Rules

“It’s a classic economics problem, but it doesn’t have a classic supply-and-demand solution,” said Alejandro Inurrieta, an economist who is writing a book on the country’s rental market. “In fact, the problem of runaway rents stems more from escalating home prices than people realize.”

In the Madrid region, for example, economists like Inurrieta say the 34% increase in home prices over the past three years is more to blame for the 33% hike in free-market rents. That’s because landlords push for returns to keep pace with the sales market, Inurrieta says. Would-be buyers are also forced into renting by the higher purchase prices.

Spain is a peculiar market within Europe, with one of the highest levels of owner occupancy, and with more than 95% of rental units owned by individuals, rather than institutions.

“It would be a revolution if this worked in Spain,” Inurrieta said of the new regulations. “There is so much under-the-table money here, and so many amateur landlords that don’t have to adhere to any strategic plan with investors.”

Market Experiment

Spain’s real estate crash almost a decade ago depressed rents and values, although the attractiveness for investors improved with the turnaround. The average gross return of 4% in 2018, according to Spain’s Development Ministry, compares favorably with the benchmark German bond yielding less than 0%. Spain’s IBEX 35 index ended last year at its lowest annual level since 2012.

Property investors typically expect that as long as there’s population growth, and a relatively free market, home purchases and rentals can beat inflation over the long term — an assertion that will be tested with new rent-cap rules.

Some economists argue that purchase prices have surged so much faster than consumer prices in many developed markets because often the two aren’t structurally linked. For example, home prices, a perennial worry for middle-class urban families, are absent from the consumer basket in many of the world’s consumer price inflation data. Instead, rental costs are typically used.

In Spain, for example, rental housing has just a 3% weighting in consumer inflation, whereas the average family spends about 30% of its income on rent and even more buying a home.

Since Spain’s property crash, banks have rarely financed 100% of a purchase. That’s one factor increasing demand for rentals. So is 35% youth unemployment. Yet, there are many dynamics that are seen across the globe in job-rich cities with scant vacant land.

“This isn’t just Spain, it’s most big markets,” Citigroup’s Lovrics said. “Look at Seattle, which was very affordable years ago, and now it’s just for high net worth.”

Source: news.yahoo

On Rent Subsidies and Affordable Housing

Both Sen. Cory Booker and the Journal overlook the most direct public response to the affordable-housing crisis—the government building more rental units.

Regarding your editorial “Cory Booker Wants to Pay Your Rent” (June 13): Both Sen. Cory Booker and the Journal overlook the most direct public response to the affordable-housing crisis—have the government build more rental units. Dramatic failures like Pruitt-Igoe have given public housing a bad reputation in the U.S., yet overseas successes including Sweden and Singapore’s housing programs show what can be accomplished by the direct construction of new housing by the public sector to alleviate a housing crisis.

A key difference between the U.S. and public-housing efforts in Sweden and Singapore is that public housing there has been open to all residents, leading to mixed-income neighborhoods instead of impoverished ghettos. In both countries renters have long had the option of buying their flats, becoming homeowners. These residential projects also included various on-site services from retail to day care.

Many will cry “socialism,” but both Sweden and Singapore have thriving market-economies that rank high in the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom: Sweden is No. 19, while Singapore is No. 2, just behind Hong Kong at No. 1, a city-state that also has an impressive public-housing program.

These overseas public-housing case studies are not without issues—but just as Hong Kong’s MTR runs trains much better than New York’s MTA—these examples show how mass affordable housing can be built and run well by the public sector.

Benjamin Turon

Sen. Booker’s affordable-housing plan is a good start. I would go further. I would provide either a tax break or preferably a housing allowance to everyone who cannot afford market rent with 20%-25% of their income. That was the standard for federal housing programs until David Stockman’s Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

How can our wealthy country do nothing when over half a million were homeless on a given night in 2018? Why should we provide housing assistance by lottery allocation? We don’t do that for health care or food assistance. How can we do nothing when middle-income families cannot find a place to live within a reasonable commute to work?

In Scotland, affordable housing is a human right. The city of Vienna provides decent housing for every resident. In Singapore, 82% of the population lives in high-quality public housing with amenities.

A few amendments to President Nixon’s Section 8 program could make housing available to everyone who needs assistance, while stimulating the economy, saving on the costs of homeless shelters and more. Safeguards could limit rents, and good regulations would set standards. The Section 8 program was most effective when Carla Hills was HUD Secretary in the Ford Administration.

Source: wsj

How the Coup in Venezuela and the US Housing Crisis are Inextricably Connected

The United States economy is organized such that all commodities, including both weapons and housing, drive the lion’s share of profits upward, into the pockets of a wealthy elite class, at the expense of the masses of working people who generate those profits through their labor power.

The functioning of this system in the interest of a tiny few at the expense of the many is made equally apparent by the orchestration of war against Venezuela by the U.S. ruling class and the orchestration of a massive housing crisis within U.S. borders by wealthy developers.

The smallest minority in the United States, the super rich, are waging a war against Venezuela with the help of Venezuela’s own class of elites. The corporate-owned press has tried to sell this war to people in the United States by spinning an elaborate web of lies.

President Donald Trump claims that the United States will bring prosperity, democracy, and freedom to Venezuela. However, the reality on the ground is a CIA-backed coup against a democratically elected socialist government, for which government there is widespread support among the Venezuelan people. In fact, in acting against the democratic structures and voting processes within Venezuela, Trump and the U.S. ruling class are exposing the true motive behind their drive for war: theft of oil for profit.

Meanwhile, in the cities of Washington and Baltimore, a small minority of wealthy developers are the controlling force in making housing policy — a function carried out with the assistance of banks and political administrators like Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, whose office released a press statement earlier this year titled, “Bowser Makes Historic $138 Million Investment in Affordable Housing.”

However, the reality on the ground is thousands of homeless families and children — with 19 percent of the total D.C. population living in poverty, while the city boasts a $14.5 billion budget, with $2.4 billion in reserve. Meanwhile, in Baltimore, approximately 7,000 families get evicted yearly for nonpayment of rent.

Clearly, problems like the affordable housing crisis or underfunding of schools and hospitals could be alleviated if our country prioritized the needs of the masses of working people over the needs of weapons manufacturers and oil barons. To make clear the contradiction between the United States’ stated values and actions, let’s consider the function of the U.S. economy and U.S. foreign policy, whom these policies are intended to benefit, and whom these policies leave out of the picture.

 

What does the war economy have to do with the housing crisis?

The war economy is the last stage of a capitalist empire. It is when the rich resort to using war to violently force open new markets so they can invest the surplus value (profit) they’ve accumulated to continue making new profits.

The U.S. military serves as a battering ram for U.S. corporations seeking to exploit a foreign country such as Venezuela or Iran. Non-military industries like the U.S. oil industry, banking, fast-food, soda, car manufacturing, or technology industries have historically leaned heavily on the U.S. military’s ability to overthrow governments and install puppet leaders who create a favorable environment for investment and profit making.

When governments, such as the Venezuelan government of President Nicloas Maduro, enact policies to protect their natural resource wealth from foreign exploitation, the U.S. military, as well as soft-power instruments like the US Agency for International Development, engage in espionage and war to knock down the existing government and replace it with a compliant government that allows U.S. corporations to exploit the country’s resources.

Throughout this process, the military-industrial complex makes massive profits by selling planes and missiles, and building military bases for the U.S. government and its junior partners in NATO. The United States is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer and arms dealer. While we may never know all of the monied interests that pushed the U.S. to intervene in Cuba, Korea, Colombia, Haiti, or currently Venezuela, we know these interests can range from banana crops to rare earth minerals. War is a payday not just for the military-industrial complex but for several sectors of the U.S. economy, which lap up the stolen wealth that trickles down from U.S. regime-change operations.

Domestically, the masses of working people have little say in what should be funded with tax revenue. So just how badly has the war economy impacted the U.S. working class? Trump’s latest budget proposal calls for an additional $33 billion to be added to next year’s war budget while cutting a mind-boggling $1.5 trillion from healthcare, welfare, housing, education, and environmental programs over the next 10 years.

The budget reflects how out of touch Trump and his aristocratic cabinet are. While Trump claims the economy is doing better than ever before, today, the three richest Americans own more wealth than the bottom 160 million Americans. While the unemployment rate is low, adequately paying jobs are so scarce that 78 percent of people in the U.S. find themselves working paycheck to paycheck and 70 percent are in debt. Some 57 percent of Americans are unable to save $100 a month.

Despite worker productivity reaching historic highs, wages remain stagnant. Coinciding with massive increases in living costs, particularly the cost of rent, the war economy has displaced over 20,000 people, primarily native Washingtonians right here in Washington, D.C. No amount of tweeting will convince working-class people that the war economy, under both Obama and Trump, hasn’t failed them.

The grand irony of Trump’s war on Venezuela is that while Donald Trump is trying to defund the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he is spending billions of taxpayer dollars attacking Venezuela, a country that actually has a robust public housing program. The Great Venezuelan Housing Mission has built over 2.5 million affordable homes for working-class Venezuelans, despite the crippling U.S. sanctions regime. Venezuelans who lost their houses to storms, lived in violent communities, or simply couldn’t afford housing on the capitalist market, have been given dignified homes made affordable through government subsidies.

The United Nations recently recognized the Great Venezuelan Housing Mission’s achievements and stated that Venezuela was one of the top countries in the world for guaranteed housing. Donald Trump is trying to overthrow a government that could serve as a shining model for public housing in the United States.

Simply put, the United States cannot invest the money needed to meet the affordable housing needs of its own people, because its profit-driven war economy requires the commodification of housing and maximum exploitation of the resources and labor power of working people at home and abroad.

 

Working class under attack in D.C. and Baltimore

Working class residents in both Washington and Baltimore have been caught in the throes of the carnage wreaked by wealthy developers, including slumlords operating with little accountability. In both cities, tenants and organizers have been fighting back through grassroots organizing campaigns that have exposed the practices of elected officials and developers working together closely to oversee the displacement of working-class people and the rapid gentrification of both cities.

Brookland Manor, a 535-unit affordable housing complex in Ward 5 of Northeast Washington, has some of the few remaining affordable family-sized apartments left in the city, including three-, four- and five-bedroom units. It is also the site of a $600 million proposed luxury redevelopment project pushed by developer MidCity Financial. The project will reduce overall affordability in the historically black working-class neighborhood, and eliminate almost all of the multi-bedroom size units. The plan? To replace 535 units of affordable housing with over 1,750 luxury apartments; tripling density on 20 acres of land.

Despite a Washington Post investigative report that exposed a massive eviction campaign at Brookland Manor led by MidCity, and despite an existing affordable-housing crisis in the nation’s capital, the District’s Zoning Commission, Mayor Bowser, and the entire City Council have backed the developer’s gentrification plan with public money. The District Council, including Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, unanimously voted to approve up to $47 million in Tax Increment Financing to subsidize MidCity’s displacement plan. The Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association has continued to fight for development without displacement in the community.

Meanwhile, across the Beltway, the city of Baltimore is on the cusp of being massively gentrified. Baltimore, similar to Washington, has given private developers free rein, to the detriment of the health, safety and well-being of Baltimore residents.

Tenants of Bolton House in West Baltimore are engaged in a recently launched public organizing campaign, challenging Urban Atlantic, a multi-billion dollar real estate developer, over what can only be described as slum conditions in which tenants are currently living. For years, tenants of Bolton House have dealt with insect and rodent infestation, water leaks, sewage backup, trash pile-ups, broken elevators, and black mold, which is potentially lethal if inhaled.

The newly formed Bolton House Tenant Coalition is working with community organization LinkUp and the political organization Party for Socialism and Liberation to demand accountability from Urban Atlantic and Edgewood Management for overseeing the deterioration of the building. But the list of unaddressed health and safety hazards in the building continues to grow, while Urban Atlantic continues to collect monthly rents from tenants and subsidies from the government.

With plans looming for a $1.5 billion renovation of the nearby State Center — a state government building where thousands work — Urban Atlantic is incentivized to profit while neglecting building repairs, as it waits for the influx of investment capital into the neighborhood, at which point it can sell or redevelop for even greater profits.

This is not Venezuela, it’s the United States of America. The profit-over-people practices of developers, and the resulting affordable-housing crisis impacts working people across the country, with 11 million Americans spending over 50 percent of their income on rent.

Fighting gentrification requires a single, mass housing movement because we’re all in the same ship, the ship of rising rents — and it’s sinking. With America’s wealth flowing to the war machine and corporations, Americans have no reason to support yet another war, this time against Venezuela, when our own domestic needs — including housing, the most basic of all — are far from met.

Source: mintpressnews

2,000 AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS BUILT & RESTORED UNDER SPANO

One of the biggest concerns of voters in Yonkers, Westchester and New York State is affordable housing. Over the past eight years, under the leadership of Mayor Mike Spano, the city has been able to create hundreds of new affordable housing units and has spent more than $250 million restoring almost 2,000 units of existing affordable housing.

Two years ago, Spano announced that the City of Yonkers would begin its most ambitious affordable housing restoration in its history. “After five years of negotiations, we are now finally embarking on the rehabbing and revitalization of more than 1,700 municipal housing units,” he said in 2017.

“This rehabilitation program is the first major renovation of these units since the city began building them shortly after World War II. So I think it’s appropriate to say, it’s about time. And In 2013, together we passed the city’s first Workforce Housing Ordinance, ensuring we are providing quality and affordable housing for working families, young people and seniors.”

Spano has always advocated for stronger rent protections and has created affordable housing requirements from new development projects. So while there is an economic boom in Yonkers, with many units of market-rate housing popping up along the waterfront, Spano has been able to ensure that 10 percent of those units are reserved as affordable housing, or obtained from the developers’ funds to create affordable housing units across the city.

With almost 4,000 of new housing units build during Spano’s eight years in office, that’s nearly 400 units of affordable housing created in Yonkers. Combine that with the 1,700 units of affordable housing already rehabilitated or currently under repair, and under Spano’s watch, more than 2,000 units of affordable housing have been created or rebuilt.

“In 2013, my administration and the City Council passed the city’s first ever Workforce Housing Ordinance, ensuring we are providing quality and affordable housing for working families, young people and seniors,” said Spano. “And in the last few years, we’ve worked hard for the rental assistance demonstration program.”

A combination of local, state and federal partnerships and grants have breathed new life into Yonkers Municipal Housing buildings and apartments. Under the leadership of Municipal Housing Director Joe Shuldiner and L+M Development Partners, the co-developer and general contractor for several projects, the William A. Walsh Homes at 75 Walsh Road and William A. Schlobohm Houses at Schroeder Street have undergone major renovations.

Repairs are also being made to John E. Flynn Manor at 334 Riverside Ave., bringing the total cost of the three projects to $100.4 million. Funding for the extensive renovations was provided by the State of New York Homes and Community Renewal, and most of the cost of the renovations of Yonkers Municipal Housing apartments have come from state and federal grant money, and creative public-private partnerships.

“Yonkers is committed in providing quality homes to our affordable housing stock,” said Spano. “These renovations breathe new life and energy into the lives and homes our residents. I want to thank all our federal, state and local partners in making the funds available for this much-needed investment, as well as MHACY’s board and its Executive Director Joe Shuldiner for his leadership and perseverance in ensuring our residents live in safe and healthy environments.”

The Schlobohm Houses complex, located in the downtown area, consists of eight elevator buildings. Each is eight stories and is easily accessible to public transportation, medical services, restaurants, shopping and places of worship. The complex has one-bedroom to four-bedroom units, and there are multiple handicap accessible units on the property.

Shuldiner said renovations are currently going on in 1,300 units of affordable housing throughout the city that should be completed by the end of 2019. MHACY is working on obtaining additional funding to complete the rest of the units by 2020, he said.

“When it comes to projects like these, we are moving at lightning speed,” he said. “Through RAD, we have been able to leverage private investment through tax credit incentives to improve our housing stock and create hundreds of construction jobs. We would not have been able to do any of this without the help of New York State, and in particular, our local delegation and Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo.”

Tenant Council President Elizabeth Owens, who has lived at Schlobohm since 1974, called the renovation “wonderful,” saying this is the most extensive renovation residents have seen to date.

Spano credited the state with stepping in to help fund the renovations, as the role of the federal government diminishes in providing, safe, decent affordable housing. “With nearly $3 billion in private investment pouring into Yonkers, it is important that all boats rise and that everyone share in the prosperity as our city thrives,” he said.

More than $50 million is being spent to renovate the 411-unit housing complex, which is more than 50 years old. The complex’s eight buildings will get new bathrooms, kitchens and windows, as well as brighter hallways, upgraded elevators and security systems.

The renovations are being completed at 20 properties across the city and will improve the lives of 10,000 residents, including senior citizens. A complex financing plan under the Department Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program allowed the city and the authority to leverage its properties and use tax credits to attract private investors.

It is the most extensive public housing renovation in the nation using public/private financing.

Source: yonkerstimes

Scottish Homelessness Plan ‘More than Eight Times over Budget’

Scotland’s local authorities have all submitted ‘rapid rehousing transition plans’ to the Scottish government, setting out how they plan to move to a new approach to homelessness.

The government has decided that councils should all follow a ‘rapid rehousing’ approach, in which they try to provide homeless people with permanent housing as quickly as possible and minimise the time they spend in temporary housing.

Speaking at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ annual conference, Gavin Smith, service manager for access and homelessness at Fife Council, said civil servants had told him that funding all the measures set out in councils’ plans would cost £130m – something corroborated by an Inside Housing social housing sector source.

Linked to the rapid rehousing plan is Scotland’s ambition to move towards a Housing First approach in which those with the most complex needs would immediately receive permanent housing then wraparound services.

The Scottish government has a £50m homelessness fund, of which £23.5m will go towards rapid rehousing and transitioning to Housing First.

Inside Housing’s sector source said that rapid rehousing has been allocated £15m of this – less than an eighth of what civil servants estimate will be the full cost of implementing local authorities’ plans.

Scottish government housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to ending rough sleeping and homelessness. As part of that, it is our priority to help support people quickly into permanent accommodation and minimise the length of time spent in temporary accommodation.

“We are working with COSLA [the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities] to agree proposals for the distribution of this transformational funding to local authorities so they can support people in their communities and end homelessness.”

Our source said a sticking point is whether money should be allocated according to the number of homeless people in the local authority or the cost of implementing the authority’s plan.

Some councils with large homeless populations, such as Perth and Kinross, have already made many of the changes necessary to move to rapid rehousing, paying for them out of their own budgets, so would require less funding.

Source: insidehousing

Here’s the Salary you’ll need if you want to Afford a Mortgage in 17 major US Cities

  • Monthly mortgage payments in the US increased twice as much as incomes did from 2017 to 2019, according to the home-ownership-investment company Unison’s 2019 Home Affordability Report.
  • The report takes a look at how much homeowners need to make each year in order to afford the median monthly mortgage payments in major US cities.
  • The report’s findings are based on homebuyers who spend 30% or less of their gross income on monthly payments.
  • Of the 35 cities the report ranked, we looked at the 17 cities where homeowners need to make the highest income to afford their mortgages.

Saving up for a down payment is only part of the hurdle between homeownership and potential homeowners.

Unison’s 2019 Home Affordability Report found that since mortgage interest rates rose from 3.99 to 4.54%, monthly mortgage payments across major US cities have increased twice as much as incomes.

The report broke down how much homeowners need to make in 35 US cities in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payments. From that list, we looked at the 17 US cities where homeowners have to make the highest income to afford mortgages.

The report’s findings are based on homebuyers who spend 30% or less of their gross income on monthly payments. The report assumes a 20% down payment, as well as a 4.54% mortgage interest rate on 2018 data and a 3.99% mortgage interest rate on 2017 data, the average annual Freddie Mac 30-year fixed rates. Data on median household incomes and median value of owner-occupied housing units were provided to Unisonby S&P Global.

Keep reading to see the 17 US cities where homeowners need the highest income to afford the median mortgage.

17. Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,150, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $45,998.

The average price of a home in Las Vegas is $234,832.

16. Minneapolis

In Minneapolis, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,228, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $49,122.

The average price of a home in Minneapolis is $250,779.

15. Chicago

In Chicago, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,276, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $51,031.

The average price of a home in Chicago is $260,526.

14. Atlanta

In Atlanta, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,357, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $54,266.

The average price of a home in Atlanta is $277,041.

13. Salt Lake City

In Salt Lake City, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,431, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $57,248.

The average price of a home in Salt Lake City is $292,263.

12. Miami

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In Miami, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,541, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $61,634.

The average price of a home in Miami is $314,657.

11. Denver

In Denver, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,725, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $68,983.

The average price of a home in Denver is $352,172.

10. Portland, Oregon

Nadia Yong/Shutterstock

In Portland, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,853, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $74,137.

The average price of a home in Portland is $378,483.

9. Boston

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

In Boston, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $2,384, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $95,344.

The average price of a home in Boston is $486,752.

8. New York City

Turtix/Shutterstock

In New York City, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $2,733, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $109,313.

The average price of a home in New York City is $558,065.

7. Washington, D.C.

Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

In Washington, D.C., in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $2,803, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $112,106.

The average price of a home in Washington, D.C., is $572,324.

6. Seattle

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In Seattle, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $2,855, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $114,217.

The average price of a home in Seattle is $583,100.

5. San Diego

Steve Heap/Shutterstock

In San Diego, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $2,916, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $116,652.

The average price of a home in San Diego is $595,533.

4. Los Angeles

Let Go Media/Shutterstock

In Los Angeles, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $3,048, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $121,939.

The average price of a home in Los Angeles is $622,523.

3. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

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In Urban Honolulu, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $3,514, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $140,555.

The average price of a home in Urban Honolulu is $717,564.

2. San Jose, California

Getty Images

In San Jose, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $3,817, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $152,697.

The average price of a home in San Jose is $779,549.

1. San Francisco

Bill45/Shutterstock

In San Francisco, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $5,052, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $202,094.

The average price of a home in San Francisco is $1,032,732.

Source: businessinsider

Secretariat complex: Delta Assembly approves Okowa’s N2.2bn request

The Delta State House of Assembly has approved the request of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for an upward review of the fund for the construction of the new Central Secretariat Complex by N2.2 billion.

The Governor’s request was contained in a letter sent to the House and read by the Speaker, Sheriff Oborevwori at Tuesday’s plenary.

According to the letter, Okowa said the state executive council had approved an upward review of the contract for the construction of the new Central Secretariat Complex undertaken by North China Construction Nigeria Limited by N2.2 billion.

He said due to the urgency in bringing all ministries, departments and agencies under one roof to reduce the cost of governance, it became necessary to complete the project in record time by ensuring adequate funding bearing in mind its importance as one of the flagship projects of the present administration.

The Governor noted that the state executive council at its meeting which held on May 21, 2019, considered and approved the term loan financing of the upward review to the sum of N2.2 billion.

The Deputy Speaker, Ochor Ochor moved separate motions for the consideration and approval of the upward review and it was seconded by Emeka Nwaobi and Reuben Izeze.

However, the governor has denied the allegation that he is the contractor of the new secretariat.

Okowa said, “There has been a rumour that Okowa is the contractor handling the new secretariat, and I keep telling people I’m not the contractor but wish I’m the one. I must be a good contractor because the contractor handling that project is doing well”

Source: Punchng

The Federal Government is set to auction fresh N100 billion bonds

The Federal Government has offered for subscriptions another N100 billion bonds. According to a circular made available to the public, the Debt Management Office (DMO) disclosed that it has been authorised to receive applications for the bonds subscription.

While the bonds will be auctioned on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, settlement date has been slated for Friday, June 28, 2019.

How the bonds will be offered: The bonds consist of a ₦30,000,000,000 at 12.75% interest rate maturing on APR 2023 (5-Yr bond); ₦40,000,000,000 at 14.55 per cent interest rate maturing on APR 2029 (10-Yr bond re-opening); and ₦30,000,000,000 at 14.80 per cent interest rate maturing on APR 2049 (30-Yr bond re-opening).

Units of sale: N1,000 per unit subject to a minimum subscription of N50,001,000 and in multiples of N1,000 thereafter.

Interested in buying? The DMO said interested investors should contact Access Bank PlcFirst Bank of Nigeria LimitedStandard Chartered Bank Nigeria LimitedCiti Bank Nigeria LimitedFirst City Monument Bank PlcUnited Bank for Africa PlcCoronation Merchant Bank LimitedFSDH Merchant Bank LimitedZenith Bank PlcEcobank Nigeria LimitedGuaranty Trust Bank PlcFBNQuest Merchant Bank Limited, and Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc.

Understanding Bonds: A bond is a fixed income instrument that represents a loan made by an investor to a borrower (typically corporate or governmental). A bond could be thought of as an I.O.U. between the lender and borrower that includes the details of the loan and its payments. A bond has an end date when the principal of the loan is due to be paid to the bond owner and usually includes the terms for variable or fixed interest payments that will be made by the borrower.

Bonds are used by companies, municipalities, states, and sovereign governments to finance projects and operations. Owners of bonds are debt holders, or creditors, of the issuer.

When companies or other entities need to raise money to finance new projects, maintain ongoing operations, or refinance existing debts, they may issue bonds directly to investors. The borrower (issuer) issues a bond that includes the terms of the loan, interest payments that will be made, and the time at which the loaned funds (bond principal) must be paid back (maturity date).

Source: nairametrics.

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