Impacts of affordable housing demand felt throughout region

ffordable housing is considered to be households that spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing, but for many residents across the Colorado River and Roaring Fork valleys that low a number can seem unattainable.

However, owners or renters that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing are considered cost-burdened, according to Economic and Planning Systems.

“The housing issue is felt throughout the region, and it doesn’t know boundaries,” Chris Cares, managing director at RRC Associates, said at Tuesday’s Garfield County Board of County Commissioners work session. “The survey provided foundation for future housing discussions.”

The analysis used surveys administered to local households between Aspen and Parachute as well as residents located between Eagle and Dotsero.

A total of 2,111 people responded to the household survey.

Another survey was administered to employers to understand local housing and employment issues from their perspective. A total of 300 employer surveys were received.

While there were many characteristics and common responses that stood out in the data collected, one of the key takeaways was the challenges and burden the widespread commuter employee base puts on the local economy and housing market.

According to the study, more than 26,000 workers (out of around 47,000 employed residents) cross paths in their daily commute versus just 19,000 employed residents who live where they work.

David Schwartz, executive vice president of Economic and Planning Systems, who presented the data to the commissioners on Tuesday, said limitations of these cross-commuter patterns are evident throughout the surveys.

Having such a large portion of the population that has to commute to work every day has a variety of impacts on the region as well as the individual towns. Residents’ quality of life can worsen, more stress is put on the roads and carbon emissions increase.

“This whole study is for elevating how interconnected everything is and how interdependent we are on each other,” he said.

The cross-commuting patterns shown from residents across both valleys is what researchers defined as the market “taking care of itself”; however, it’s not taking care of its workers that may not want to commute so far every day.

For instance, in Basalt, the market shows that the town is importing 85 percent of its workforce and exporting 90 percent of its resident workforce. This can present challenges in creating a tight-knit community.

Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes spoke during the comment portion of the work session about the stress and challenges cross commuting had on him and his family.

“Our friends and neighbors [is what] make a community,” he added.

According to the analysis, housing in the New Castle to Parachute area is meeting housing demands from other parts of the region; however, demand for housing exceeds its supply in the Glenwood Springs and the Aspen/Snowmass area.

“Pitkin County’s lack of housing is our human service crisis,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said following the presentation.

Commissioner Mike Samson said the analysis provided interesting information, but that most of it boiled down to common sense.

“One of the major problems of housing in Garfield County is because of things done or not being done in Pitkin County,” he added.

When asked about the connection between the housing situation in Pitkin and Garfield counties, Schwartz said it was obvious that the bulk of employment is up there, and it is creating the housing demand.

According to the analysis, 1.3 to 1.4 is the average number of jobs for adults in the region.

“This speaks to the necessity of the condition,” Schwartz explained. “It speaks to the necessity of people needing to earn more money because of the housing situation.”

Despite the work session taking up most of Tuesday morning, the packed room of audience members filled with concerned residents and government officials stayed and wanted to know more about the local housing situation by the end.

Glenwood Springs City Council member Paula Stepp asked if the researchers included any solutions to some of the problems presented.

Schwartz said he believed a private-public partnership with local businesses to address affordable housing could be an advantageous route for the county and cities to take, and the survey indicated a willingness from employers to offer housing assistance.

“It depends on the representation of the business community, but there is precedent,” he added.

However, Schwartz said he felt the problem was far too expansive, ranging and connecting into several neighborhoods in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties, and will need regional or even state funding solutions.

“I really think this needs to be something new, something creative,” he added.

Source: By Alex Zorn

Some 9,000 families on over £100k have used the Help to Buy scheme to get on the housing ladder

Thousands of wealthy families have received taxpayer loans to help them on to the housing ladder, official figures show.

The Help to Buy scheme, set up to support struggling first-time buyers, has now been used by 92,077 families with incomes of more than £50,000 a year.

Of these, 8,891 had incomes in excess of £100,000.

The Help to Buy scheme – set up to support struggling first-time buyers – has now been used by 92,077 families with incomes of more than £50,000 a year

And of 210,964 households to use the scheme since its launch in 2013, almost one fifth were not first-time buyers, with many of them using support from the taxpayer to purchase a bigger home.

The scheme, the brainchild of former Chancellor George Osborne, lends taxpayers’ money to families buying new-build homes. But it has been blamed for pushing up prices and fattening developers’ profits.

Persimmon last year became the first British housebuilder to make profits of more than £1billion as it cashed in on the scheme.

Heavy criticism prompted ministers to overhaul the rules from 2021 when it will be restricted to first-time buyers only.

Matt Kilcoyne, of the Adam Smith Institute, said: ‘The scale and amounts are stunning.

The housing crisis is caused by the lack of homes in the right places. The £11.7billion spent has done nothing to increase the number of houses, it has just pushed up prices even higher.’

Greg Beales, director of campaigns at housing charity Shelter, said: ‘Help to Buy has made things worse for many would-be buyers by inflating house prices.

‘The Government should call time on this country’s housing crisis by investing in a new generation of social housing.’

The average price of properties bought was £258,223, with the average loan at £55,498.

Three of Britain’s biggest builders – Barratt, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon – raked in more than £2.7billion in profits last year off the back of the scheme.

Persimmon sold nearly half of its homes that year through Help to Buy and paid former chief executive Jeff Fairburn £85million in just two years.

However ministers have been considering changes to Help to Buy after an outcry.

Last month James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary, warned developers they must stop ‘unacceptable’ practices and end problems with build quality.

A Government spokesman said yesterday: ‘Last year saw the highest number of first-time buyers in more than a decade and now we know that Help to Buy equity loans helped more of them than ever before to own their homes.’

Source: By Matt Oliver, DailyMail

Large demand for affordable housing

How big is the demand for affordable rental housing in Douglas County?

Big enough for families to start lining up at 6:30 a.m. when the Douglas County Housing and Redevelopment Authority began to accept “Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher” applications for the first time in nearly three years.

The Section 8 voucher program is a federally-funded rental subsidy program administered through the Douglas County HRA and other housing authorities all over the United States. Families are selected from a waiting list of applicants, certified, briefed on the requirements of the program and if they qualify, they find their own unit to lease.

With Section 8, families get to choose where they want to rent. The landlord needs to accept the funding and allow the HRA to inspect the unit.

Unit rents must work with the area payment standards, which are controlled by Fair Market Rents established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The tenant’s portion of the rent payable to the owner is based on 30 percent of the family’s adjusted gross income.

The Section 8 voucher program subsidizes the difference between the tenant’s portion and the actual rent or payment standard, whichever is less.

The average Section 8 family in Douglas County receives about $309 a month in rental assistance, Thesing said.

The application process, which opened March 18, will remain open as long as the HRA sees fit. It previously opened on Jan. 4, 2016 and closed June 13, 2016.

“It might be open for awhile — it all depends on the amount of applications we receive,” said Thesing. “We don’t want families waiting too long to receive assistance but it all depends on funding.”

To be eligible, families have to meet low-income requirements at admission — less than $25,100 a year for a single person or less than $41,550 for a family of six.

“There is a lack of affordable housing in this area,” Thesing said. “Many new apartment complexes are going up in the area, but the rents are so high the units do not work for the program. This makes finding units to lease very difficult for families on the rental assistance program and low-income working families in general.”

The Douglas County HRA receives about $64,000 a month to pay out to landlords for the families who are on the program.

“In the past, we’ve had people from Chicago, the metro area, Iowa, even in Georgia apply, but we have a local preference for people who live, work or go to school in Pope or Douglas County,” Thesing said. “We are trying to keep the money that comes from HUD here, in our area.”

The assistance isn’t meant to last for a lifetime. Thesing said it should be viewed as a stepping stone until 30 percent of their income covers the entire rent amount, leaving nothing for the program to pay or their income rises above the eligibility requirements.

“For some, their situations won’t change, such as for the disabled or the elderly,” Thesing said. “Some are collecting Social Security and can’t make it without rental assistance.”

The main source of income for those receiving Section 8 assistance is Social Security and disability pay, but quite a few families, about 25 percent, are employed, said Thesing.

Right now, 200 families receive Section 8 assistance in Douglas and Pope County and about 41 of them have been getting the assistance for more than 10 years.

The average annual income for families on Section 8 is about $15,000, which is not a lot to survive on these days, Thesing said.

The program includes safeguards to make sure it is being used properly.

“We verify citizenship, background checks, income, financial information, checking and saving accounts before admission to the program and during it,” said Al Glaeseman, Douglas County HRA assistant director. “If complaints are received, we look into them right away. The Douglas County investigators help in this process.

“Greater Minnesota is blessed to have good people working to spot fraud,” Glaeseman added.

If fraud is found, such as not reporting income, the family is required to pay back the amount of rental assistance that was overpaid to the landlord. If they fail to follow their repayment agreement, they will be terminated from the program and will have to wait five years to get assistance again, Thesing said.

Getting approval is a slow process. It can take anywhere from three months to three years for applicants to be notified by mail. Those interested in applying should stop by the HRA office at 1224 N. Nokomis Street in Alexandria.

Besides administering the Section 8 voucher program, the Douglas County HRA works to find other ways of helping for low-income families. It recently bought 13 acres of land off of Northside Drive, behind the Habitat for Humanity building, and the goal is to develop apartments, townhomes and single-family homes as well, according to Glaeseman.

The development would provide housing for not only low-income families but affordable workforce housing.

Glaeseman added that the project, if it receives the county board’s approval, could break ground this year and will be done slowly, in two or three phases.

“We want to do it right,” he said.

Source: By Al Edenloff

South Africa seeks $1.3bn for affordable housing programme

South Africa is seeking US $1.3bn for development and renovating affordable housing units in the City of Johannesburg. This is according to Mayor Herman Mashaba who pointed out that the city’s biggest investment made through the private sector which will see construction of 24 developments in the next six months.

“City properties are set to be released to the private sector for redevelopment as we seek to realize US $1.3bn in expected investment value which will be visible soon in the inner city with 24 developments scheduled to start in the next six months. This will be in addition to three developments already underway in Hillbrow and Newtown,” said Mayor Herman.

Affordable housing

The housing project will include the largest number of mixed-use private sector developments with focus on residential and student accommodation units being facilitated by the city all at once. This comes after the city released 71 properties to the private sector in 2017 as part of Johannesburg’s inner city revitalization programme. 13 properties had initially been released by the council.

The developments project seeks to provide affordable residential units, affordable retail spaces for businesses and also affordable student accommodation. They will be located in Salisbury, Wolhuter, Marshalltown, Yeoville, central Johannesburg, Fairview, Vrededorp, Berea and Turffontein. Phase one will have 6500 housing units that will be rented at a cost of between US $62 and US $312 per month excluding utilities.

“This is just but the start of bringing change to the city, more building and developments are set to be constructed in future. Through the city’s inclusionary housing framework, which makes provision for new developments to include at least 30% affordable housing, residents can now live where they choose across Johannesburg with better access to jobs and opportunities,” said Mashaba.

Source: By Linus Kemboi

Trump’s Housing Agency Cracks Down on No-Money-Down Home Loans

The Trump administration is cracking down on national affordable housing programs because of concern over growing risk to the government’s almost $1.3 trillion portfolio of federally insured mortgages.

The effort targets providers of money for borrowers who can’t afford the 3.5% down payment typically required on Federal Housing Administration loans. Such help — from government agencies and families — enables four in 10 FHA loans. Borrowers in government down-payment assistance programs become delinquent at about twice the rate of those who put up their own money.

A new U.S. Housing and Urban Development guideline, published on its website late last week, would be particularly harmful to the Chenoa Fund, one of the largest down-payment programs in the U.S.

A Utah mortgage entrepreneur named Richard Ferguson runs the Chenoa Fund on behalf of the Cedar Band of the Paiutes, a tribal government in Utah. It is providing about $100 million a month in loans to borrowers who can’t meet FHA down-payment requirements.

While many cities, counties and state housing finance agencies also provide similar help, they typically limit the loans to local residents. Chenoa operates nationally. HUD said government agencies must document that they are helping borrowers buy property only within their jurisdictions. Tribal governments, it said, may only offer assistance to members living on tribal land or elsewhere.

“This is obviously very concerning,” Ferguson said in a phone interview. “It appears that HUD is trying to put the tribe back on the reservation.”

Cedar Band’s mortgage company said in a statement that the HUD action is discriminatory against Native Americans and would hurt minority borrowers who represent more than half of Chenoa’s customers. It plans to challenge HUD in court, according to the statement.

The Chenoa Fund was the subject last year of a Bloomberg Businessweek article, which detailed concerns in the industry and Washington about its practices. Chenoa not only provides down payments for borrowers across the country but it also profits from making the loans by charging above-market rates and fees.

The agency reiterated that no one offering down-payment assistance should financially benefit from the transaction. Some members of the tribe say they see little evidence that profits from the Chenoa Fund have filtered down to them.

Although the recovery has been uneven, we are now beginning to see some companies return to top health.

After the 2008 housing crash, Congress prohibited down-payment assistance from any party with a financial interest in a transaction. Such operations ended up costing the FHA’s insurance fund $17 billion when borrowers got in trouble.

But the FHA’s ban didn’t apply to federal, state and local government programs, which now make up the majority of the 2,500 U.S. down-payment assistance outfits.

Source: Bloomberg News

Florida Bill Would Ban Cities From Requiring Developers to Build Affordable Housing

In many state capitols and city halls, politicians debate how much affordable housing developers should be required to build. Not so in the Florida legislature, where a rapidly advancing bill would prohibit cities from mandating that new private housing projects include any percentage of rent-restricted units at all.

This past Thursday, Florida’s Republican-controlled House passed HB 7103 by a commanding, mostly party-line vote. The bill is now working its way through the state Senate’s committee process.

The bill would ban cities from adopting “inclusionary zoning” ordinances. These laws require that developers rent out a certain percentage of new housing units at affordable rates to tenants earning less than a city’s median income. (“Affordable” in this context usually means that the monthly rent is no more than 30 percent of a tenant’s median income.)

These mandates are often used by cities and states trying to grapple with increasingly high housing costs. Proponents argue that they ensure that lower-income residents see the benefits of new construction without having to ask taxpayers to fund fully public housing projects. Critics counter that shifting the costs of providing affordable housing onto developers will make some housing projects uneconomical, reducing the overall supply of new housing and driving up prices in the long run.

“When you start having mandates and [the] state setting price controls, you create all kinds of distortions in the market,” the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Jason Fischer (R–Jacksonville), explains to radio station WJCT.

The literature on inclusionary zoning ordinances is mixed. A 2004 study from the Reason Foundation (which publishes this website) looked at the effects of inclusionary zoning ordinances adopted in California’s Bay Area, finding that they produced few new affordable units while driving up costs for builders and homeowners alike.

“By restricting the supply of new homes and driving up the price of both newly constructed market-rate homes and the existing stock of homes, inclusionary zoning makes housing less affordable,” the report concludes.

Some subsequent research has been less critical of these zoning policies, concluding that they produce affordable units without deterring the overall construction of new housing. All of these studies, both pro and con, have been limited by how much variation exists between different localities’ individual affordability mandates. One city might require 20 percent of units be reserved for tenants making 80 percent of the area’s median income, while another mandates that 10 percent be rented at affordable rates to residents making less than 50 percent. One city might require developers to build affordable units on-site, while another allow those units to be build elsewhere, or let developers to pay a fee that funds public housing projects.

Making things even more complicated, the zoning requirements on the books are often not the requirements developers are held to, as local governments often either reduce or increase the amount of mandated affordable units on a project-by-project basis.

Big-picture debates aside, it’s not hard to find individual examples of projects stalling after being slapped with impossibly high affordability requirements.

In addition to the ban on these mandates, Fischer’s bill limits local governments’ ability to impose impact fees on new development. It also sets strict timelines for localities to review and approve construction permits. The bill would still allow density bonus programs, whereby developers voluntarily offer to include affordable units in exchange for waivers on local height and density limits.

The bill does not target underlying zoning codes that dictate what kind of housing can be built where. That makes it the polar opposite of a major housing bill in California, SB 50, which hacks away at some local zoning controls on building apartment buildings while also imposing new inclusionary zoning requirements.

Both approaches leave a lot of development restrictions untouched. If both pass, they’ll serve as interesting experiments in how states experiencing staggeringly high housing costs can kickstart new construction.

By CHRISTIAN BRITSCHGI

Colorado is Set to Invest More in Affordable Housing Than Ever Before

Colorado’s set to make what could be the largest ongoing investments in affordable housing in the state’s history. And yet, some housing advocates will walk away a little disappointed about what might have been.

Republic Bank gets IFC Loan to Provide Affordable Housing

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has approved a loan to Republic Bank for US$75 million to help address Trinidad and Tobago’s affordable housing deficit.

A release from RBL said the IFC’s funding will support Republic Bank’s strategic plans to increase exposure to residential mortgages from 20 percent of its total loan portfolio to 25 percent, helping thousands of middle-income families become homeowners.

The investment consists of a seven-year subordinated loan to grow the bank’s mortgage portfolio of middle-income borrowers. Additionally, the subordinated debt will qualify as Tier II capital under local regulations, hence strengthening Republic Bank’s capital base.

As part of the transaction, IFC is offering technical assistance in key areas such as reporting, monitoring and risk management of the residential mortgage portfolio.

“Owning a home is a dream for many families and Republic Bank continues to look at innovative ways to provide affordable housing in Trinidad and Tobago as this partnership with IFC demonstrates,” said Nigel Baptiste, Managing Director of Republic Bank Limited.

Baptiste also added that the confidence shown in Republic Bank by IFC in providing Tier II capital to further strengthen the bank’s already robust capital level comes at an opportune time as the Republic Group is embarking on a wider expansion in the region.

The release said the investment is also well aligned with wider efforts to close Trinidad and Tobago’s affordable housing gap which is estimated at more than 100,000 units, in a population of fewer than 1.4 million people.

The bank’s partnership with IFC is expected to improve the country’s relatively low mortgage finance penetration rate, which is one of the most critical factors contributing to the housing gap.

RBL said the initiative also supports the government’s efforts to manage its subsidised housing costs. Housing development—as part of the construction sector—is key for job creation. However, one of the largest expenditures incurred by the country is the sale of subsidised housing. To reduce these expenditures, the government is adopting new incentives such as land grants, tax exemptions and cash bonuses to developers who build homes for lower-income families.

“The private sector has a key role in providing financing for affordable housing, especially in the tightening fiscal context of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Luc Grillet, IFC senior manager for Central America and the Caribbean.

“Private financing for affordable housing saves public resources and benefits families and the economy as a whole—long after the homes are built and occupied, the ripple effect from residents support jobs in a wide array of industries, including retail, healthcare and hospitality.”

Source: Loop News 

FG begins rehabilitation of 104 unity schools

The Federal Government has begun the renovation and rehabilitation of 104 unity colleges in the country, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has said.

He said the rehabilitation exercise include replacement of broken toilets, ceilings, creation of additional classrooms and the renovation of existing ones.

The minister said the renovation, directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, is aimed at expanding access to education in the country.

He stated this during the monitoring of 2019 common entrance examination organised by the National Examination Council, in Abuja, on Saturday.

The minister said about 25, 000 students would be given admission into the colleges nationwide.

Adamu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Sonny Echono, disclosed that the government had already begun recruitment of teachers to carter for the new intake next term.

He said: “We have a challenge of access to education in this country, as part of our interventions to ensure that we bring more children into the school system and reduce the number of kids who are out-of-school, we are having so many programmes. One of it is to increase the spaces available in our unity colleges.

“You are aware that each time we do this there are other consequential interventions that are needed. You need to have additional classrooms; you need to have additional teachers.

“We are pleased that Mr. President graciously approved that we should begin to rehabilitate many of these unity colleges. Besides the security infrastructure, we are now providing both new classrooms and as well as rehabilitating the dilapidated ones and we are also dealing with the libraries, laboratories and so on.

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“We are recruiting additional teachers for the unity schools as we speak. Both the regularisation of PTA teachers and new recruitment are ongoing at the Federal Civil Service Commission as we speak and they will come in early enough for them to be inducted, trained, given some kind of preparation ahead of the opening of the schools next term.”

He said the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has already approved four interventions in some unity schools in Abuja.

The minister explained that the intervention is to rehabilitate broken toilets, ceilings and classrooms to compliment what the ministry of education is doing.

“We hope that in the next few years, all those schools will be returned to their glory days,” he added.

NECO’s Acting Registrar, Abubakar Gana, said 75, 635 candidates sat for the examination on Saturday in 457 centres nationwide, including one centre in Port Novo, Benin Republic.

Gana said that the results of the examination will be released on Wednesday by the agency through the ministry of education.

He urged parents to check NECO’s website for the released results.

Lagos state had the highest number of registered candidates with 23, 459 while Zamfara had the lowest with 59 candidates.

“The results are expected to be released by NECO to the Federal Ministry of Education on Wednesday 1st May 2019 after which the ministry would direct NECO to release it to the public after the selection exercise.

“Candidates are to check the status of their admission both at the various Federal Unity Colleges and online via NECO website: www.neco.gov.ng as soon as the release of the results is announced,” the ministry added in a statement.

Source: By Frank Ikpefan, Nationonline

Housing financier urges Africa to embrace PPP to address housing shortage

Pan-African housing financier Shelter Afrique on Wednesday urged African governments to embrace public-private partnership (PPP) to address the continent’s housing shortage.

Andrew Chimphondah, chief executive officer of Shelter Afrique, told journalists in Nairobi that public resources are not sufficient to meet the expanding demand for decent houses in Africa.

“We are therefore encouraging African governments to develop PPPs as the key mode for delivery of low cost housing at a large scale,” Chimphondah said during a PPP projects training program for property developers and contractors organized by Shelter Afrique.

 

Chimphondah said that under the PPP framework, governments typically provide land and bulk infrastructure while the private sector injects finance required to put up affordable housing units.

According to Chimphondah, development of low cost housing is facing many hurdles, partly due to high cost of land in urban areas in most African countries.

He revealed that the cost of land contributes to approximately 40 percent of the price of houses in urban areas, hence the need for government intervention to make houses affordable. Enditem

Source: By Xinhua, China.org.cn

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