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.
In Austin, “affordable housing” has become a magical phrase that is repeatedly heard within the walls of City Hall.
Although affordable housing is undoubtedly needed in the city, the Board of Adjustment indicated that it’s fed up with this phrase being used as a bargaining chip for increased development entitlements.
“I will not barter affordable units anymore for variances,” Board Member Michael Von Ohlen said at the June 10 meeting of the Board of Adjustment.
At that meeting, Emily Jones, who was representing Mid-City Development, requested a variance to allow the property at 3219 Manor Road to be built to a height of 60 feet rather than 40 feet. Sixty feet is currently allowed in portions of the project with other sections graduating down to 40 feet. The variance would allow for a uniform height of 60 feet for the entire project.
The five-story, planned mixed-use building is designed to have 130 units, 10 percent of which would be affordable.
Board Member Rahm McDaniel noted that the site is almost directly across from the Mueller development, which offers 25 percent of its units at affordable rates.
“The fact that it’s 13 units doesn’t really do a lot for me. It seems a little light,” he said of the proposed development’s number of affordable units.
Nor were board members comfortable with the developer not defining the term affordability. Board Member Yasmine Smith prodded Jones to elaborate on the percentage of median family income that the units would be offered at, but Jones was unable to commit, saying only that the units would be “affordable.”
“You’re using that as a trigger word,” said Smith, “and not doing what needs to be done for affordable housing, especially with a pool (on the roof).”
Several members of the community testified that they too objected to the construction of this complex. Dan Daniels, the president of the J.J. Seabrook Neighborhood Association, called the offer of affordable units “eye candy” in exchange for an increase in height.
In order to allow the developer to meet with the neighborhood and further discuss design options that would be amenable to both parties, the board voted unanimously to postpone the case until July. Board Member Melissa Hawthorne was absent.
Offering developers cheap debt but limiting their profitability, as well as exempting home owners from property tax for a number of years, are two ways cities can make affordable housing a reality, according to recent World Economic Forum research.
The forum’s new housing report, Making Affordable Housing a Reality in Cities, showcased Vienna in Austria, where supply of affordable housing rose when developers were given debt at 1 per cent interest rate but were not allowed to make large profits.
Lombardy in Italy developed its own ethical real estate fund to support rental homes at discounted prices, expanding the supply of affordable homes.
New York recently exempted multi-family rental homes in certain areas from property taxes for up to 35 years.
These funding solutions are only some of the many critical supply-side tools that can be used, the report says. Other supply-side tools are more innovative land acquisition strategies, more flexible land zoning, and creative design of housing using materials that bring construction costs down.
On the demand side, the report says housing can become more affordable if different types of tenures of rental and home ownership are made available.
To that end, cities and countries must interrogate the meaning of “affordability” to provide the best mix of homes, the report says.
The meaning of affordability
“It is not only about being able to afford to buy or rent a house, but also being able to afford to live in it,” the report said.
“This goes beyond meeting expenses related to operations and maintenance. It also involves considerations of transport, infrastructure and services.
“If a house is cheap enough to buy and run, but located far from livelihood opportunities or amenities such as schools, it cannot be said to be affordable.”
Sydney epitomises this problem. It has plenty of greenfield housing land far from job centres, which is not connected by good infrastructure, although the city is stepping towards better public transport, with the Sydney metro rail opening.
To increase the supply of housing amid a recovering market, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW has called for a Housing Recovery Plan, which includes a 12-month stamp duty concession for new owners, re-capping infrastructure contributions to encourage developers to restart, and the removal of foreign investor surcharges to encourage foreign investment, which can lead to more supply for locals.
“The key issue currently facing the development industry and housing affordability in the medium term is achieving pre-sales to unlock project finance and commence new housing projects,” UDIA NSW chief executive Steve Mann said.
The World Economic Forum also gives the example of Chongqing and Chengdu in China, where innovative land acquisition strategies have been used. The two cities are trialling “tradeable land quotas”, which permits developers to construct housing in a city in return for opening more land for development beyond city boundaries.
Sydney’s Communities Plus Program also got a mention. These “public-private partnerships” combine private sector and community housing funding and expertise with government contribution, such as land.
In Los Angeles, new laws allow motels to be converted into “permanent supportive housing” for the homeless, regardless of zoning.
Tenures matter, which is why Bristol in the UK is building 161 homes on a former primary school site with six different types of tenure.
The ownership model within the Barnett Model Development in North Melbourne is creating home ownership by offering homes through a “deferred second mortgage” model that reduces the deposit and repayments, the report adds.
Gov. Jay Inslee lauded Vancouver for its affordable housing plan, recognizing the city with one of 13 Smart Communities Awards in a declaration last week.
“Creativity, collaboration and public engagement are key to ensuring that communities are successful in meeting future growth and prosperity goals,” Inslee said in a media release. “This year’s award-winning plans and projects exemplify some of the reasons why Washington is consistently ranked one of the best states in America.”
Vancouver won the Smart Choices Award for its housing strategy, which encompasses an unusual recipe of renter protections, zoning code changes, development incentives and direct public funding for affordable housing.
In the media release, one of the award judges called Vancouver’s strategy a “toolkit for other communities to use.”
How it began
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said Tuesday that the city’s current housing strategy started in the winter of 2014, when a Rose Village neighborhood developer unexpectedly evicted hundreds of tenants from their homes in the Courtyard Village Apartments Complex with 20 days’ notice.
“It shocked our entire community. It just took everything out of us. We had no idea what this meant,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “People were scrambling, because we didn’t have enough housing. The city realized we needed to step in.”
Under the leadership of then-Mayor Tim Leavitt, Vancouver formed its Affordable Housing Task Force, which revised city ordinances to formalize stronger tenant protections.
“Then came the opportunity to start this Affordable Housing Fund,” McEnerny-Ogle said, referring to a seven-year program that set aside $6 million per year in public funds for low-income housing development and preservation. The fund indicated a shift — the city was taking ownership of what was once considered exclusively a county issue.
“No other cities were doing that in Washington,” she said. “We certainly know we’re not done with this process. We certainly know we have a long way to go, but we’ll take every bit of help we can get and suggestions on how we can build on it.”
Now in its 14th year, the Smart Communities Awards recognize cities and counties in Washington that have demonstrated some novel and effective approach to housing, infrastructure or urban planning.
Other 2019 winners are Prosser, Lakewood, Island County (twice), Blaine, Thurston County, Bellingham, Walla Walla, Colville, Tukwila, Tacoma and Bonney Lake.
This year is the first that Inslee has recognized Vancouver in his Smart Communities Awards, though in the past other Clark County communities have won.
In 2013, Clark County, Ridgefield and Battle Ground earned the award for their Clean Water Alliance. Ridgefield has twice received an honorable mention, once for its comprehensive growth management plan in 2016 and again for the city’s mixed-use overlay and commercial design standards in 2017. The Port of Camas-Washougal also received a nod from the governor in 2015 for its waterfront and trail development.
Columbus City Council wants to create new affordable housing development opportunities on the city’s Far East Side.
“A lot of the areas, especially in our community around 270, that for a long time were successful are starting to lose population, and frankly the housing stock and the commercial corridors are starting to age,” says Hannah Jones, deputy director of Columbus’ Department of Development.
Columbus City Council members will host a public hearing Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m., to address the proposed creation of the Far East Community Reinvestment Area (CRA).
“So we have to start looking at different approaches out there to reinvest in those areas and make them more attractive again,” Jones says.
The Far East Side is south of I-70 and is bordered by Brice Road, Refugee Road, Blacklick Creek and Truro Township.
Jones says City Council wants to create the Far East CRA to offer incentives for developers, which would receive a 100%, 15-year tax abatement to build mid-rise and high-rise projects. In year 11, schools would receive 15% of their normal payment and those would increase each subsequent year, until the abatement ends.
“In this case we were approached by a developer who was interested in doing a larger project that would serve some of our mid-level, mid-tier income residents, and we really saw an opportunity to capitalize on that,” Jones says.
Single-family residential rehabilitation projects will also quality for abatements. However, single-family new construction will not be eligible unless designated for affordable housing.
Jones explains that the city has seen a faster decline on the Far East Side for the past 5-10 years. She says more attention there can improve the area.
“What we really want to focus on, though, is that there is decent and safe and sanitary housing options, both on the rental and the home ownership side,” Jones says. “So yes, it is our desire to continue to see a mix of housing options.”
While Columbus has many critics of its tax abatements, city officials say they’ve made some changes. In July 2018, Columbus City Council voted to approve a new policy that demands developers invest in affordable housing in exchange for tax breaks. However, the plan also allows builders to buy their way out of those requirements.
“With the review of our overall tax abatement policy last year, the administration did not shy away from recognizing that it was time for us to reevaluate that and that is why we changed the way that we structure our system,” Jones says.
The city of Columbus has used tax abatements in other areas of Columbus, like the Hilltop, Milo-Grogan, Franklinton and Linden, among other neighborhoods.
“It is often utilized by a lot of our affordable housing developers in a way that is very impactful to the families there,” Jones says.
Two opposing forces in the statewide debate over affordable housing obligations—Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (D-37) and Fair Share Housing Center attorney Kevin Walsh—went head to head along with three other panelists in a livestreamed debate May 31 on how best to fulfill affordable housing obligations.
While not directly debating each other, the two panelists joined a roundtable panel to discuss the state’s affordable housing issue—a topic roiling municipalities statewide and an apparent thorn in the side of local officials.
Most municipalities have chosen to settle for fear of losing a so-called builder’s remedy lawsuit—a lawsuit from a developer that could lead to court approval of a high density development that a town cannot legally stop without Superior Court immunity due to ongoing local settlement negotiations or an approved affordable housing plan.
While most Pascack and Northern valley communities have settled affordable housing obligations, some are engaged in legal negotiations and some legal battles—each trying to get the smallest affordable housing obligation possible for their community.
Since 2015 most area municipalities have filed declaratory judgments with state Superior Courts to submit a settlement plan, and generally have been working with a court-appointed special master, local attorney, and intervenor attorneys to develop them.
Recently, River Vale, Park Ridge, and Haworth have been going through increasingly public efforts to come to agreement on settlement plans with intervenors, and all have been in the public eye.
While Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna is the most visible and vocal opponent to what he calls “high density overdevelopment,” both Haworth Mayor Thomas Ference and River Vale Mayor Glen Jasionowski have spoken out against the Fair Share Housing Center and the court system in place to force affordable housing on towns.
During a nearly two-hour discussion, which ended with both Walsh and Schepisi getting in last licks about the substance and tone of the affordable housing debate, both used the forum to make cases for the future of New Jersey’s affordable housing obligations from opposite views. The debate was produced by NJ Spotlight, a not-for-profit news site.
Bullying and racist charges
Schepisi has been outspoken on the issue for several years—leading a charge recently to take the issue away from superior courts and get legislators to act on reform bills she helped sponsor in 2018.
She previously alleged Walsh used bullying tactics to get towns to build affordable units and also that Walsh labels officials and legislators who oppose the current system for providing affordable housing “racist”—a charge she mentioned again in calling for more open discussion of the issue.
“There is an absolute need for affordability, there’s an absolute need to do it smartly. And we can’t shut down the conversation by just saying because somebody wants to see something done maybe better or differently, therefore racial segregation. It’s a total B.S. response, it’s something we need to be honest about and we need to be able to move forward together,” Schepisi said in concluding her remarks.
Several times during the discussion, Walsh noted that affordable housing creates living and social opportunities for low-income communities, which include many African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, to move into areas not normally accessible to them.
Throughout the discussion, other panelists spoke about the history of affordable housing and Mount Laurel decisions in New Jersey, how the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) dissolved due to a 16-year period of legal battles and non-action, and how many affordable homes might be built between 2015 and 2025 and possible alternatives to a court-supervised process.
Walsh said he anticipated about 50,000 affordable units being built over the 10-year period.
“We had a horrible time on affordable housing from 1999 to 2015. That’s in part because municipalities chose to exclude and were allowed to do so,” he said.
He noted the state could put together an annual affordable housing report to keep residents updated on settlement negotiations and said of about 350 towns involved in court negotiations, nearly 290 had settled obligations through 2025.
Another 50–60 were in negotiations to settle, he said. The third round of affordable obligations covers a “gap period” from 1999–2015 and 2015–2025.
Schepisi called for a regional and not local approach to moving forward with affordable obligations. She cited Bergen County’s most densely populated land area, overcrowded public transportation already at capacity, and noted to build high-density housing “and hope that it all works out is doing a disservice to everybody.”
During several points, Walsh noted how most families in the low-income or very low-income categories were African American, and admonished Schepisi for trying to make affordable housing a solution for other social problems it was not intended to solve.
Schepisi noted the discussion on affordable housing needs to include individuals struggling with “generational poverty” as well, such as a single mother getting divorced and wanting to keep her child in local schools, or an individual who needs transitional help, or rehabilitating properties for people with special needs.
Walsh said Schepisi’s call for affordable housing to solve other social problems would continue to “permit the wide exclusion of families that are lower income from suburbia” and said that the current court-ordered affordable process is providing more housing for people with disabilities and special needs than previously was available.
Walsh said for generations state law and local zoning perpetuated racial and economic segregation.
“Given that, we need to ask ourselves: Are we a state that believes in segregation and what comes with it? And are we willing to perpetuate the extremely high rates of racial and economic segregation in our cities? And if we are, then yeah, go ahead and meet the needs of everyone else and exclude the lower income families from suburbia,” he said.
Walsh noted Judge Mary Jacobson’s 2018 West Windsor decision on affordable housing obligations where she recommended a methodology and calculated a statewide obligation of 155,000 affordable units by 2025.
He said the court-mediated affordable system deciding local obligations “in reality is a system that has been set up to substantially reduce that number.”
Again he noted he estimated 50,000 homes to be built statewide by 2025.
Schepisi said if those 50,000 homes are built by developers with a “density bonus,” the builder is permitted to construct four or five market-rate units for every affordable unit, “and that that makes little sense.”
Generally, for new rental properties 15 percent of units are affordable and market-rate units have a 20 percent set-aside for affordable units. Schepisi said 250,000 to 300,000 homes likely would be added to towns to build the 50,000 affordable units.
Schepisi said New Jersey, the densely populated state, leads the nation in residents departing for other states, has relatively high property taxes, a minimal [0.3 percent] population growth, and a high home foreclosure rate.”
Given those trends, she said, “high density housing makes no sense when you look at the collective picture.”
She noted how affordable units are being built “on the last remaining farm” in Dumont while longtime residents pay higher taxes and may lose their homes.
“We’re operating in this kind of bubble where we’re not having the smart conversations of how to do it better,” she said.
The discussion was kicked off by a presentation from Peter Reinhart, a director of Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, who discussed the origins of affordable housing.
He suggested a task force of public, private, and non-profit sector leaders to create a statewide housing policy and a newly reconstituted state planning commission to create an updated State Development and Redevelopment Plan.
Most recently, legal battles have played out in municipalities with pressure being applied by a powerful intervenor, Fair Share Housing Center, who was appointed to intervene by the state Supreme Court.
While a September trial date has been set for Park Ridge should negotiations with Fair Share fail to resolve its affordable obligations, most officials have been unwilling to take on Fair Share Housing Center in court.
River Vale ‘angered’
Following four years of negotiations, River Vale has come up with an affordable housing settlement local officials are clearly not happy with.
Mayor Glen Jasionowski wrote residents a week ago decrying a lack of local options and a Sept. 6 deadline to comply or potentially lose immunity from a builder’s remedy lawsuit.
“I am so angered and upset that the state is putting our township in this position. If we do not comply, we face huge legal costs and the chance that the court will order us to do this or more. We have done so much over the past two decades to provide affordable housing in a way that blends with our town,” he wrote.
He added, “Mayor Blundo had the vision to address this issue and we would be in much worse shape if he hadn’t taken it seriously. No one has been able to stop Fair Share. You can see all around us that there are giant developments being built in each town, and it’s because we are all being forced to follow the State’s demands on housing.”
These include a 249-unit development at Edgewood Country Club, including 24 affordable units; rezoning to protect the country club’s remaining 18-hole course; senior housing on Cedar Lane; rezoning of Florentine Gardens/Valley Brook Country Club; building of an adult care home on Cedar Lane (under construction); development of 36 affordable units on the former Meskers site on Rivervale Road and overlay zoning for some commercial buildings to allow second-floor affordable apartments should buildings be redeveloped.
“This is the least amount of development the court would accept for River Vale. Should we not comply, this would put us back to having to provide the 500-plus affordable units required by the state and Fair Share,” Jasionowski wrote.
He said the “worse-case scenario” is that the state could require River Vale to build 2,486 affordable and market rate units.
“How they expect this to be reasonable in River Vale is absurd. … I believe we have a moral obligation to build affordable housing, but in a way that fits our township,” he added.
Haworth ‘balancing act’
A draft settlement agreement between Haworth and Fair Share Housing Center—set for a fairness hearing June 20 in Superior Court—establishes the borough’s current obligations at 223 units—to be addressed through “inclusionary developments,” overlay zones for future affordable housing and ordinances mandating affordable set-asides in new developments.
An inclusionary development includes market-rate units for sale or rent, plus generally a set-aside of 15 percent of rental units and 20 percent of for-sale units for affordable housing.
While 223 affordable units are proposed to settle its third round (1999–2025) affordable housing obligations, the settlement agreement notes the borough has a “realistic development potential” (RDP) of 28 units, or units to actually be built between now and 2025.
“We really had to balance the mandatory requirements to offer affordable housing with the goal of not changing the character of Haworth. We did the best we could with finding locations,” Councilman Glenn Poosikian said.
He explained that no one on the council opposes affordable housing; there is concern that Haworth has little space available for new housing.
He said while some residents might be under a “misconception that affordable housing means bringing in new residents from other communities,” the affordable housing also gives older local residents with reduced incomes an opportunity to stay in town.
“It was a balancing act we were tasked with,“ he said.
He said residents need to understand that the councilmembers are residents also.
“We’re not happy with being forced to make any type of settlement with Fair Share…but we did the best we could to satisfy the mandate,” he said.
Sharon Ford got her the keys to her first home Friday afternoon. The home has been renovated from top-to-bottom and remained affordable, thanks to a project by the Port Authority and a loan from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
“I know. I was excited to finally say, ‘Wow, this was ours. We get to put our stamp on it,’” Ford said as she stood in the kitchen of her new home.
The house sits on Jonathan Avenue. Ford purchased it for $145,000. A second house two doors down is also pending for the same amount. Both homes were renovated by the Port Authority. Now Ford, her fiance and her 10-year-old son, Avery, will move into a house instead of renting an apartment, which cost them more than a mortgage payment.
“I’m excited to have a backyard. I’m going to put a standalone hammock back there,” Ford said.
A $1-million loan from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation has enabled the Port Authority to renovate the homes, bring them up to code and sell them at a price homeowners can afford. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman attended the ribbon cutting for the Fords’ home.
Smitherman said Evanston used to have the highest rate of home ownership by African-Americans and this renovation is the “shot in the arm” the neighborhood needed. He said Jonathan Avenue connects the neighborhood to Walnut Hills and Xavier University.
“It’s a very important artery. So repopulating it and stabilizing it with affordable housing is awesome. So this is the beginning of building a solid community,” Smitherman said.
Evanston has had problems with crime in the past. District 2 police Capt. Aaron Jones remembers starting his career patrolling Evanston. He’s glad to see it improving.
“As a young officer, I went from robbery to robbery to gun run to shooting,” Jones said. “Twenty-one years later as the captain, I’m going to groundbreaking, ribbon cutting, social events. Just to see the landscape and everything in the community change, it’s amazing.”
Evanston’s a work in progress and still has some issues, but it’s getting better. And now Ford calls the neighborhood home.
“I’m ready to do everything in here. I’m ready to make some lemonade and give it to my friends and have a barbeque,” Ford said.
The Port Authority is renovating homes in Walnut Hills, Bond Hill and Roselawn. The Fords’ home is the 36th property the Port has rehabilitated or built in Evanston since 2013.
As part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Housing for All by 2022’ scheme, the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO) plans to offer 90,000 homes under its mega housing scheme in Navi Mumbai, DNA reports. An online lucky draw by July-end or August this year will decide who gets their dream house in this round.
Chief engineer at CIDCO (special projects) Sanjay Chotalia told the newspaper that these flats, which will be constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), are meant for the economically weaker sections (EWS) and the low-income groups (LIG).
PM Modi’s flagship scheme, the PMAY was launched in June 2015 to ensure affordable housing for all by the year 2022 by providing financial assistance to the beneficiaries.
“We have all permissions in place. By June-end, the tender for construction of these 90,000 flats will be opened. And by July or August, these houses will be put up for sale through a lottery,” Chotalia said.
The flats are to be built at several locations in Navi Mumbai, some of which include Taloja, Kharghar, Panvel and Kalamboli. Of the 90,000 homes, 53,000 are to be constructed for the EWS category and the remaining 37,000 for the LIG category. These are expected to be offered at prices 20 percent to 30 percent lower than those offered by private developers in the market, taking into consideration the Rs 6,000 per sq ft price of a CIDCO house as against the Rs 9,000 per sq ft offered by a private developer.
Lottery winners will be able to pay as construction progresses. The initiative, industry watchers told the newspaper, ‘will restore some sanity to unit pricing and offer more options to needful buyers’.
A similar offer by CIDCO for over 14,000 homes under its mega housing scheme in October last year received an overwhelming response. People, who missed out on October’s draw, participated in another round of lottery for 1,100 unsold flats that were part of the same scheme. Online applications for these 1,100 flats, which were open from January 1 to 31 this year, received an overwhelming response and saw over 57,000 valid applications.
U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley on Thursday implored Trump administration officials to reconsider a housing rule they believe would worsen homelessness.
The rule, proposed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, would ban families with at least one member in the country illegally from living in taxpayer subsidized housing. If approved, the rule would expand on an existing ban on those immigrants receiving subsidies directly.
A government assessment of the proposal found it would cause more than 100,000 people to lose their housing aid. About 70 percent are lawful residents and 55,000 of them are children.
Wyden and Merkley, both Democrats, panned the proposed rule, saying it would force people into homelessness.
“This misguided approach runs counter to HUD’s mission and breaks with the sensible policies the department has had in place for over two decades under both Republican and Democratic administrations,” the senators wrote in a letter, signed by 17 Senate colleagues, to Ben Carson, the HUD secretary.
They added in the letter: “This is nothing more than an attempt to advance a dangerous agenda that targets and scapegoats the immigrant community.”
The senators argued that rather than alleviating the affordable housing crisis, the rule would exacerbate it by pulling assistance “from eligible immigrants and citizens.”
Carson framed the proposed regulation as a way to help citizens get housing aid.
“Our nation faces affordable housing challenges,” Carson said in a tweet, “and hundreds of thousands of citizens are waiting for many years on waitlists to get housing assistance.”
Cost of renting apartments in major cities of Nigeria has continued to be on the high side. Prior to the Muhammad Buhari administration, those touted to have made money in questionable ways usually look at the real estate as where to dispense the money.
That helped to increase the number of housing inhabited and thereby reduce the deficits in the sector. Many experts, when they want to solve economic or sectoral problems, often take cue from how such problems are solved in other climes and try to match them with local situations.
Nonetheless, Nigeria’s case is not like that, rather the body movement of Mr. President has frightened the potential investors in real estate. The EFCC has been beaming its searchlight in their direction. This results in the unprecedented housing deficits that live with Nigerians in major cities.
This unprecedented rate of urbanization has led to increased demand for good and affordable housing. It has not only made house scarce in the cities of Nigeria but also added to the unaffordable apartments that litter the cities without occupants.
A recent survey revealed that of 200 cities polled around the world, 90 per cent of them were considered unaffordable when applying the widely-used standard of average house prices being more than three-times median income.
Addressing the housing affordability challenge in Nigeria, requires systematic changes. City governments must streamline their regulatory landscapes and enable transparent land acquisition, emphasize property rights over title, develop a rental regulatory framework to protect tenants as well as landlords, encourage mixed-income and mixed-use housing developments, enable more innovative financing models in developing new homes or upgrading existing homes and encourage skill-building in the construction industry.
The private sector must embrace innovative mechanisms to finance development and help establish the creditworthiness of those looking to improve their housing situation. Employers need to work with communities to provide affordable housing for employees, or help with housing costs through loans, subsidies or mortgage deals. Private developers need to invest in sustainable design concepts to create energy-efficient housing to improve productivity, prefabricating components and using alternative materials and advanced automated equipment.
The non-profit sector also has a key role to play in working with housing providers to implement alternative tenure models, while supporting advocacy efforts of government in formulating policy and providing technical support, information and know-how to developers and homeowners.
Affordability is not just about the ability to buy or rent a home, but also about being able to afford to live in it. This definition of affordability goes beyond meeting expenses related to operations and maintenance, taking into consideration transport, infrastructure and services.
If a home is economical enough to buy and maintain but located too far from work or school, it cannot be said to be affordable. In Nigeria for instance taking Lagos as a sample survey, there could be houses littering the environment of Lekki and Ajah but because those working in Alausa cannot live comfortably and meet going to and fro Alausa every day, it means the houses are not affordable.
The factors contributing to a lack of affordability vary from city-to-city, but broadly include housing costs rising faster than incomes, the supply of houses not keeping up with demand, scarcity of land, and demographic changes such as population growth, ageing and shifts in household composition.
To understand the challenge more holistically, the World Economic Forum (WEF) recently launched a new report it termed, Making affordable housing a reality for cities. The report provides a comprehensive overview of affordable housing challenges across the housing value chain.
It identifies factors that affect housing affordability beyond the direct costs of purchase and maintenance to include but not limited to location, housing type, access to social infrastructure, the legal and regulatory environment and the state of financial markets. It also recommends a systematic approach to addressing the affordable housing crisis, while highlighting how a range of cities are finding solutions.
For the government of Nigeria to address the housing challenges in the country, it must be able to tackle land acquisition that has to do with tradeable quotes, a situation through which developers are permitted to construct new housing on the periphery of a city in return for opening up additional land for cultivation beyond city boundaries.
There is the Land Use Act which if pioneered well could give government the privilege to partner with the private sector and non-governmental and community housing groups to develop some social housing units in neighborhoods that need renewal. Proceeds could be re-invested in social housing, community facilities and public space. Housing assistance is linked to participation in education, training or local employment.
There is this another system which is called repurposing of vacant property which is prevalent in Los Angeles. Los Angeles recently passed a law allowing motels to be converted into “permanent supportive housing” for the homeless, regardless of current zoning requirements.
This is typically quicker and cheaper than new construction, as it involves only adding small kitchens to the motel rooms. The idea of improving housing supply by pooling publicly owned assets into an “Urban Wealth Fund” is also creeping into the country. This means government partnering with the private sector to deliver projects. Sharing risks and benefits aligns the interests of these stakeholders and can streamline infrastructure development, planning and land-use regulations.
Also if government can regulate construction productivity in the country and make labour cheaper through inflation control, then the few constructed housing will be affordable to people. Shortage of professionals and building materials to give construction sector the most necessary skill is also one of the factors that challenge the provision of affordable housing in Nigeria.
Government of Nigeria should review the activities of technical schools and accredit other training providers, strengthen coordination between training providers and construction employers, and provide funding to upgrade training equipment and premises.
By making the country’s skills training more useful to the construction industry, and more attractive for young people, they would have addressed some percentages of affordable housing problems. Government’s inability to use Polytechnics, Schools of technology for research into manufacture of building materials is one of the problems.
The Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), has done a lot of things in the direction of providing some raw and some finished building materials in the recent past but it seems government did not latch on that to progress.