U.S. Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Resigns Over Disagreements With Housing Policy

A top Department of Housing and Urban Development official is leaving the agency following disagreements with other members of the Trump administration over housing policy and the White House’s attempt to block disaster-recovery money for Puerto Rico, according to five people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude, second-in-command at the agency helmed by Ben Carson and widely regarded as HUD’s most capable political leader, is said to have grown frustrated by what a former HUD employee described as a “Sisyphean undertaking.”

Patenaude cited personal reasons when she submitted her resignation on Dec. 17. “It’s a bittersweet farewell to HUD,” Patenaude said in an interview.

She denied that internal conflicts played a role and said she looks forward to spending time with her husband at their home in New Hampshire. “These jobs are all-consuming,” she said. “There are no ulterior motives. I’m not mad at the administration.”

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Patenaude was the main administrator running the agency for much of her 16 months as deputy secretary, according to political and career HUD staffer.

She is departing at a critical moment for HUD, as its largely inexperienced political ranks grapple with the fallout of a prolonged partial government shutdown.

Her impending departure, planned before the shutdown began Dec. 22, hurt the agency’s ability to anticipate and plan for the closure, according to career and political staffers. HUD is under fire for not renewing hundreds of expired affordable-housing contracts before the shutdown went into effect, jeopardizing the budgets of property owners and the housing stability of low-income tenants.

Housing advocates and HUD employees described Patenaude’s departure as a blow to an agency in which the morale of career staffers has deteriorated under Carson.

“She knows the HUD building, the issues, the policies and the politics. She was an especially strong and important counterpoint to Secretary Carson’s early lack of knowledge on any of the issues that he was expected to lead on,” said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “When she battled some of the more ideologically far-right members of her administration, she typically won.”

Patenaude’s departure reflects a broader pattern of political appointees with expertise who are leaving the administration.

Her confidants say there was not one blowup that precipitated her resignation but rather a series of incidents that left her feeling frustrated. The former HUD employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to damage working relationships with the agency, characterized Patenaude’s job as “pushing this rock uphill over and over again only to have it fall back down.”

Patenaude disagreed with the agency’s handling of an Obama-era fair-housing rule requiring communities receiving federal funds to address long-standing patterns of racial segregation, according to three people with direct knowledge of internal HUD debates. Carson had suspended the 2015 rule,calling it “burdensome.”

Patenaude told The Washington Post she did not support the rule as written by the Obama administration but said she wanted to educate communities about the law as the agency deliberated on a path forward. She said policy discussions continue.

“My position was we had a moral and legal obligation to get it right,” Patenaude said. “Policy discussions are a series of explorations, and Secretary Carson and I are absolutely aligned on the need to educate America about fair housing.”

Patenaude had palm-size cards made listing the classes protected from housing discrimination — factoring race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability and familial status — and distributed them widely. One agency official said Patenaude hoped the effort would help allay concerns of career employees and advocates that Carson’s team does not care about civil rights.

Last fall, Patenaude expressed concern over the Trump administration’s intervention in disaster-recovery money that Congress had appropriated for Puerto Rico and states hit by hurricanes.

President Trump in late September grew incensed after hearing, erroneously, that Puerto Rico was using the emergency money to pay off its debt according to two people with direct knowledge of Trump’s thinking.

Trump told then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and then-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney that he did not want a single dollar going to Puerto Rico, because he thought the island was misusing the money and taking advantage of the government, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive internal deliberations. Instead, he wanted more of the money to go to Texas and Florida, the person said.

“POTUS was not consolable about this,” the person said. Patenaude told White House budget officials during an early December meeting in the Situation Room that the money had been appropriated by Congress and must be sent, according to two people with direct knowledge of the meeting. She assured them that HUD had proper oversight of the funds.

Patenaude, who had visited Puerto Rico more than half a dozen times during her tenure, was about to make her final trip to the island as deputy secretary and wanted to ensure that Mulvaney’s team corrected any misinformation transmitted to the president, said a HUD official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Patenaude told The Post: “I didn’t push back. I advocated for Puerto Rico and assured the White House that Puerto Rico had sufficient financial controls in place and had put together a thoughtful housing and economic development recovery plan.”

In her meetings with Puerto Rico’s governor and other officials, Patenaude made it clear the territory would need to establish an oversight structure and meet other conditions to receive federal funding, said Carlos Mercader, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington.

“Pam Patenaude showed the most commitment to Puerto Rico of any of the public officials inside the Trump administration,” said Mercader, who accompanied Patenaude on several of her visits to the island. “From the governor down, we are all grateful for everything she did.”

The week before Patenaude resigned, the U.S. territory received authorization to request future drawdowns for their long-term recovery efforts, including the development of affordable housing.

“She didn’t want to abandon Puerto Rico,” said the HUD official. “Once she felt like she left Puerto Rico in a good place, she felt like she could leave.”

The partial government shutdown has delayed Puerto Rico’s ability to access the first $1.5 billion of its nearly $20 billion in HUD disaster-relief funds.

Patenaude is the third senior political appointee with housing experience to leave HUD in recent weeks. Neal Rackleff, the assistant secretary of community planning and development, left in December. Michael Bright, executive vice president and chief operations officer at the Government National Mortgage Association, or Ginnie Mae, announced his resignation last week.

Patenaude, who began her career at HUD as a 21-year-old intern during the Reagan administration, has spent more than two decades in housing policy and economic development, serving as President George W. Bush’s assistant secretary for community planning and development at HUD.

“I’m going to continue to be supportive of the president and his agenda,” she said. “I’m going to be working very hard for his reelection.”

Source: Washington Post

Trump Wall: Past projects show border wall building is complex, costly

President Donald Trump is not giving up on his demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying a physical barrier is central to any strategy for addressing the security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border.

Democrats argue that funding the construction of a steel barrier along 234 miles (377 kilometers) will not solve the problems. A 2018 government report warns of increased risks that the U.S. wall-building program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned and not perform as expected.

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Walls and fencing now cover about one-third of the 1,954-mile-long (3,145-kilometer-long) border. Some construction began with former President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, George W. Bush ramped up the effort in 2006, and Barack Obama built more than 130 miles (209 kilometers), mostly during his first year in office.

Between 2007 and 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spent $2.4 billion to add 535 miles (861 kilometers) of pedestrian and vehicle barriers and other infrastructure along the border.

Trump wants to extend and fortify what’s already in place. But contracting, designing and building new wall systems complete with updated technology could take years, and past experience has shown such work can be complicated and costly.

Here is how much the government has spent on barriers in the states along the Mexican border:

CALIFORNIA

Much of California’s 141 miles (227 kilometers) of border with Mexico was fenced during the Bush administration through a security measure that won congressional approval and had support from key Democrats.

In 2009, the federal government spent about $16 million a mile on a 3.5-mile (5.5-kilometer) stretch in San Diego, using about 2 million tons of dirt to fill in a canyon known as Smuggler’s Gulch. The earthen dam was then topped with layers of fencing.

At the Imperial Sand Dunes, the U.S. built a floating fence of 16-foot-high (5-meter-high) steel tubes that can be raised or lowered as the sands shift. The $6 million-a-mile barrier cuts through a film location for “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” that resembles the Sahara.

Both are examples of some of the rugged territory along the border that can result in higher costs.

The Government Accountability Office estimated in 2018 that new border wall construction averages $6.5 million a mile but terrain, building materials and other factors influence costs. Elsewhere, the Rio Grande’s winding waters and lush vegetation are more challenging for erecting walls than Arizona’s flat deserts.

ARIZONA

In 2006, the federal government completed a 30-mile (48-kilometer) stretch of steel barriers to keep people from illegally crossing into the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The barriers were designed to stop vehicles from driving around a checkpoint in Lukeville or up through the desert wilderness. That three-year project had a price tag of $18 million.

More recently, Barnard Construction Co. Inc. of Montana was awarded $172 million for 14 miles (23 kilometers) of new fencing in the Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector. Officials say the total value of that contract could reach $324 million for 32 miles (52 kilometers).

NEW MEXICO

More than a dozen miles of fence were built near Columbus in 2000, stretching from the border town to an onion farm and cattle ranch. A survey done several years later determined that a 1.5-mile (2-kilometer) section that was designed to keep cars from illegally crossing into the U.S. was accidentally built on Mexican soil.

The project was believed to initially cost about $500,000 a mile, while estimates to uproot and relocate the fencing ranged from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

In 2018, the federal government awarded a $73 million contract to the same Montana-based company to rip out old vehicle barriers and replace them with a new bollard-style wall of tall metal slats and extensive concrete footings along a 20-mile (32-kilometer) stretch near Santa Teresa. That project was finished months ahead of schedule.

TEXAS

Congress last spring approved $641 million for 33 miles (53 kilometers) of construction in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal border crossings. Targeted areas include the nonprofit National Butterfly Center, a state park and privately owned ranches and farmland.

In El Paso, construction started last fall in the Chihuahuita neighborhood — the border city’s oldest neighborhood — to replace 4 miles (6 kilometers) of chain-link fencing with a new steel bollard wall. The estimated cost: $22 million.

There has been fencing for decades in cities such as El Paso and San Diego. Once built, increased crackdowns in those areas led to a drop in apprehensions. But authorities have complained that as a result of those efforts, illegal crossings and trafficking activity has been pushed to more remote stretches of the border.

Source: abcnews.go.com

Here’s how much property Jeff Bezos owns in the US

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ $137 billion fortune are under a microscope after he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announced their divorce.

It’s unclear from their initial statement, issued via Twitter, whether they had any prenuptial agreement, or any other contract affecting the financial terms of their divorce — and also uncertain how the couple may decide to split the vast amounts of property they’ve acquired over the years.

Although his e-commerce behemoth is based in Seattle, Bezos owns land in several other states. In fact, according to reports,the world’s richest man also happens to be the country’s 28th-largest landowner.

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From sunny California to a 30,000-acre ranch in Texas, here’s a look at some of the estates the Bezos family considers home.

Beverly Hills, California

In July, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos — who have four children — bought a 4,568-square-foot, four-bedroom home with a swimming pool on half an acre for $12.9 million.

That house is located right next door to the sprawling 11,891-square-foot, seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home he bought in 2007 for $24.45 million.

Washington, D.C.

The city, a suburb of which will host half of Amazon’s second headquarters, is also home to another Bezos mansion. For $23 million, Bezos bought the former Textile Museum about two years ago. Neighbors include Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to the Journal.

(Bezos also has another presence in Washington: He bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million).

Van Horn, Texas

The multi-billionaire, who grew up on his grandparents’ ranch in a small Texas town, owns more than 300,000 acres in the state, most of which is part of “Corn Ranch.” He told a local newspaper in 2005 that he bought the 30,000-acre Figure 2 ranch to give his family the same experience.

New York City

In 1999, Bezos bought three units at a building in Manhattan’s Lincoln Square neighborhood for about $7.65 million. In 2012, he paid $5.3 million for a 1,725-square-foot unit across from the original building.

Long Island City, which is in the New York City borough of Queens, will be home to the other half of Amazon’s second headquarters.

Medina, Washington

Bezos paid $10 million for his 5.3-acre property in 1998 in the Seattle suburb. His property includes two residences: One is a 20,600-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom house; the other is an 8,300-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom house.

Source:foxbusiness.com

More than 400 UK high-rise towers still have ACM cladding

New figures show 437 high-rise residential and publicly-owned buildings in England still have aluminium composite material cladding which is unlikely to meet existing building regulations guidance.

The latest official data on ACM-clad buildings showed as of 31 December 2018, 268 unremediated towers were in the private sector, with 160 comprising social housing and nine being publicly-owned, such as hospitals and schools.

The housing department began compiling figures on buildings over 18m tall with ACM in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 in which 72 residents lost their lives.

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The government has said it will consider in a matter of weeks the recommendations of the Hackitt Review which was prompted by the disaster in west London. Proposals include tougher regulations and enforcement, improving accountability among developers and owners and establishing a joint competent authority to oversee the safety of tall residential buildings during their lifecycle.

Of the 268 private sector buildings, plans for remediation on 56 remained “unclear”, according to the government update, down from “more than 200” in June last year.

Work had been completed on 30 private sector buildings, 18 had seen work start, plans existed for 126, and owners of 38 buildings said they intended to do work and were developing plans.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said while the government was funding the replacement of ACM cladding in the social sector building owners and developers in the private sector must pay for the replacement of dangerous material themselves.

Brokenshire said the costs must not be passed on to leaseholders. “My message is clear. Private building owners must pay for this work now or they will pay more later.”

Of the 176 private residential buildings covered by the latest findings the government said the owners or developers of 80 had either agreed to fund the cost of remediation or had had warranties accepted in order to pay for the work to be done, while it was unclear who would fund work on the remaining 90.

Of the 160 social sector buildings 37 had finished remediation work, 81 had started work, 40 had a plan in place but work had yet to commence, while owners of two further buildings had indicated their intent to do work.

There were three local authorities with more than 20 buildings which still feature an unsafe cladding system which had yet to be fixed, the government said: Salford in Greater Manchester and Greenwich and Tower Hamlets in London.

Bionic Construction Workers Coming in 2020

An American robotics company has revealed a new full-body exoskeleton for construction workers that aims to be commercially available in 2020.While the US manufacturer specializes in military and public safety devices, the new robotic exoskeleton allows workers to carry up to 200 pounds for extended periods of time. Called the Guardian XO, the design has been in development for nearly two decades and is made to help reduce strain on construction workers.

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The Guardian XO took over $175 million to develop and can last for eight hours on a single charge. The weight of the suit and its carried loads is transferred through the exoskeleton structure to the ground.

The company says the suit contains a “suite of sensors integrated into the exoskeleton, allowing the operator to intuitively control the robot in a way that leverages his or her instincts and reflexes, and minimizes the need for human training”. Built with a strength amplification of 20 to 1, a 100-pound steel beam will feel like a 5-pound weight.

Pittsburgh launches task force on construction industry fraud

The Pittsburgh City Council recently voted to establish the Joint Task Force on Construction Industry Fraud amid allegations of widespread fraud in the industry.

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The board will identify and combat “unfair trade practices, including tax fraud” committed by the city’s construction businesses. The focus will be on wage violations that result in underpayment or non-payment of taxes, and low, under-the-table pay rates that prevent some workers from being able to support their families.

A carpenters union claims that Pennsylvania has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes as a result of underpayment of taxes by construction firms. Though some workers who are paid off the books may be undocumented immigrants, the bill makes no mention of monitoring undocumented workers.

The task force will include representatives from the city council, mayor’s office, Pittsburgh Regional Building and Construction Trades Council, Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, and the Pittsburgh Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections.

Report reveals record number of homeless people dying on UK streets

Thousands of people are living on the streets in every UK town and city and a record number of roofless people are dying. One encounters homeless people on every major high street—sitting, sleeping, begging, wrapped in a sleeping bag or blankets in an attempt to keep out the winter cold.

Homelessness shot to national prominence again over the holiday period when a man died just feet from Parliament on December 20. Hungarian national Gyula Remes had been homeless for the last three months. According to friends, he had just found a job as a chef’s assistant and was hoping to be off the streets soon.

His death came as the Office for National Statistics revealed figures showing that almost 600 people died in 2017 while sleeping rough on the streets. The grim tally of 597 dead marks a 24 percent increase over the last five years, with the highest numbers in London and the north west of England. Over the last five years, an estimated 2,627 homeless people have perished on the streets.

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There were 50 deaths on the streets of Greater Manchester last year, with homeless people dying at a higher rate, relative to population, than London, where 136 homeless people died.

In the region’s main city, Manchester, on December 26, Tony Lawless, who had been a rough sleeper on and off since the death of his father, was found dead in Rochdale canal. The former market worker had just been released from North Manchester General after collapsing on Christmas Day and was 51 years old.

Homeless people often resort to sleeping in refuse bins, which has led to several deaths. Last January, Russell Lane, 51, died from his injuries after being tipped into the back of a refuse lorry in Rochester, Kent. He had wrapped himself in a disused roll of carpet in the bin.

The number of rough sleepers in England doubled in 2017 to 4,571, from 1,768 in 2010, according to the House of Commons Library, which also reported average life expectancy for a rough sleeper at just 47 for a male and 43 for a woman.

The first published deaths of the homeless on the street coincide with the latest figures released by the Crisis charity, revealing a record 170,000 families and individuals without homes. The number is expected to rise.

Research carried out at Heriot-Watt University on behalf of Crisis found a year-on-year increase in homelessness between 2012 and 2017. Approximately 38,000 under-25s and 4,200 over-65s are homeless.

There are 170,800 homeless households in comparison to 151,600 in 2012. Included in this figure are those who are rough sleeping, sofa-surfing, or staying in hostels.

Crisis lays the blame at the doors of government, including policies which have created an acute shortage of genuinely affordable social housing, reduced Housing Benefit which no longer covers rent and is not available to under 25s, and youth thrust out of the care system aged 18 without provision. John Sparkes, chief executive, said, “This new research echoes what we see every day in our front-line work—that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ homeless person … this crisis is affecting people who range from young care-leavers to pensioners. … This is a wake-up call to see homelessness as a national emergency.”

These figures are corroborated by housing charity Shelter, which revealed at the end of November that there are 320,000 homeless people living in Britain, an increase of 25,000 since last year. This figure, which includes people in working families, is likely an underestimate. Official figures only include those in contact with local authorities and not the hidden homeless residing with family or friends.

Shelter Chief executive Polly Neate said, “Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room.”

The charity cited one of the causes of rising homelessness as the low level of housing benefit—a means-tested welfare benefit to help meet costs for rented accommodation—which does not cover average rent. The local housing allowance in Manchester, for example, is set at £532 a month for a family needing a three-bedroom house. However, private landlords, apart from student lets, ask for rents of £800 per month and upwards.

The homeless crisis has become so visible and public anger so widespread that Theresa May’s Conservative government has been forced to retract its previous denial of responsibility. Just prior to Christmas, Housing Minister James Brokenshire said the Conservatives “need to ask ourselves some very hard questions” regarding the increase in rough sleepers since the government came to office, and that what was necessary were “changes to policy.”

This was just PR, with the government doing virtually nothing to ameliorate an appalling crisis. After announcing “the end of austerity” in September, May allocated a measly £100 million—a repackaging of money already announced—as part of the government’s “Rough Sleepers Strategy” that is supposedly to eradicate rough sleeping by 2027!

Leading politicians of all parties, whose austerity policies over decades are responsible for the crisis, interrupted their Christmas celebrations for a show of sympathy for the homeless and destitute.

In recent weeks, the public have been forced to endure the obscene spectacle of Conservative MPs visiting food banks and supermarket food bank drop-off points for photo-ops. Among these were Dominic Raab, who infamously said in 2017 that those using foodbanks were people “who had a cashflow problem episodically.” The reality is that huge swathes of the population are going hungry and being forced onto the streets due to more than a decade of brutal anti-social policies, such as the bedroom tax and universal credit.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visited a homeless hostel run by Crisis in his Islington constituency on Christmas Eve. In his Christmas message he invoked the spirit of the Good Samaritan, while his government-in-waiting has bent over backwards to reassure the rich it will not encroach on their ill-gotten gains to provide essential services.

Labour’s promise of initial funding of £100 million for one year into a rough sleepers’ cold weather fund is derisory and would not end rough sleeping. Corbyn acknowledged as much when he suggested Labour in office would repeal the 1824 Vagrancy Act, under which there have been 2,365 prosecutions in 2015-2016. This would make it legal to sleep and beg on the streets but would not eradicate the causes of destitution.

The homeless crisis is an indictment of a failed system, capitalism. Beginning in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, and pursued enthusiastically by subsequent Labour governments, over 1.5 million council houses were sold off as the building of new stock ground to a halt. Last year only 6,463 homes were built in England for social rent, while 1.25 million families are on the waiting list.

Labour councils throughout the UK have implemented every cut imposed by central government and implemented privatisation of services with zeal. In London, residents have organised in opposition to the regeneration plans of Labour’s mayor Sadiq Khan, which involve the demolition of 8,000 council estate homes so property developers can get their hands on prime real estate to make a killing.

Greater Manchester’s social housing stock has declined by 5 percent in the six years since 2012 and 85,639 households languish on Labour council-run housing waiting lists. This led to 2,000 children spending their Christmas in emergency accommodation.

Gentrification and social cleansing are happening everywhere, with city skylines crowded with cranes and newly built luxury high-rise blocks that are unaffordable to everyone but the richest.

The resources can and must be found to provide safe, decent homes for all. The wealth of the billionaires and super-rich, acquired by exploiting the working class, must be expropriated to meet urgent, life or death, social needs.

Housing Delivery: Ministry of Housing Introduce New Developer Contribution Rules

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a consultation on funding infrastructure with a view to quickening the pace of housing delivery in England.

The rules centre on developer contributions which help fund new roads, schools play areas and other essential infrastructure.

Financial contributions are required from developers where additional public infrastructure is needed to support the building of new homes, with the government claiming that its Community Infrastructure Levy collected almost £1bn since it was introduced in 2010.

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The government says the move is part of a package of reforms to address the ‘lengthy and complex process of negotiation for councils that slows down the delivery of new homes, precisely at a time when more are needed.’

The consultation also seeks to increase the types of project that can benefit from CIL, ensuring a wider range of community priorities are eligible to receive funding.

Launching the consultation, minister of state for housing Kit Malthouse says: “Communities and developers must know that vital infrastructure needed to support new homes is going to arrive – even before a shovel hits the ground.

“These reforms will make the system simpler, transparent and easy to understand and will accelerate the pace of home-building – it’s now up to house-builders and residents to tell us what they think.”

The draft measures, initially announced at the 2018 Autumn Budget, are part of the government’s ambition to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

The consultation takes forward new proposals intended to:Introduce a new strategic infrastructure tariff, helping fund large scale projects which benefit multiple communities falling under a combined local authority.

Widen options on how contributions can be used by councils to benefit their residents, ensuring funds are spent on a wider range of local priorities.Increase certainty and transparency by requiring councils to publish details on what has been collected and spent, so communities understand the benefit of development.

Ensure the Community Infrastructure Levy responds to changes in land values, ensuring towns and village get the contributions they deserve when planning permission is granted.

Survey Reveals U.K. Home Prices Growing At Slowest Pace In 5 Years

House prices in the UK are growing at their slowest pace in over five years according to the latest figures released.Sold house prices rose 2.7 per cent over the year to £231,000 but dropped slightly month on month, by 0.2 per cent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data found.

North West England led the price rise with the average sold price up 4.9 per cent in a year to £165,000, thanks to a strong jobs market in Manchester and the surrounding areas.

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Yorkshire and the Humber had the second strongest year for price growth with house prices rising 4.4 per cent to £164,000. The East Midlands saw 4.3 per cent price growth to £193,000.

But in London, still by far the most expensive place to buy a home, prices dropped by 1.7 per cent year on year, to an average sold price of £474,000.

A real estate expert,Jonathan Hopper attributed this to London’s exposure to the impact of Brexit. The North East was the other region to experience falling prices, down 0.1 per cent in a year to £128,000.

“Two years of gnawing uncertainty about Britain’s post-Brexit future have chilled several regional markets to the bone,” said Mr Hopper.

“In London and North East England – two regions expected to feel the impact of Brexit more than most – average prices are falling as demand wobbles and would-be sellers hunker down and wait for things to improve before putting their home on the market.”

House prices in the City of London and Tower Hamlets, where many of those who work in financial services live, saw double digit drops. More than £55,000 was wiped from the average sold price of a home in Tower Hamlets.

But price drops in the capital were also seen as a potential bonus for buyers. Mr Hopper said: “We’re seeing a steady stream of tactical buyers emerging from the woodwork to snap up homes at large discounts.”

Housing Secretary Rejects Plans To Replace Social Homes With Private

The plans to replace 70 social homes in Kensington and Chelsea with private housing options have been rejected by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government,The Rt Hon.James Brokenshire.

Warren Kenny, General Trade Union(GMB) Regional Secretary, said: “GMB is very pleased with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s decision to reject the Clarion Group’s appeal for planning permission for proposals that would have led to the loss of nearly one third of the social housing units on the William Sutton Estate in Chelsea. GMB had branded this development a blatant case of asset stripping.

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“Clarion must not forget the primary reason of a housing association is to provide low cost housing to those on low incomes or those who need extra support. Nor must it forget that the Sutton Dwellings Trust was founded to provide ‘model low-rented dwellings for occupation by the poor of London and other towns and populous places’.

“GMB has consistently supported residents fighting for their voices to be heard on proposals for demolition of their estates. We salute the residents of the Sutton Estate in their fight to retain social housing in Chelsea. We are supporters of Demolition Watch London in its campaign for all residents on estates facing demolition to be balloted on redevelopment plans with no loopholes or exceptions. This is the only way to stop asset stripping and the loss of social housing.”

Cllr Ian Henderson, Chair of the Chelsea Association of Tenants and Save The Sutton also commented on the news: “I think this is a great day for the residents of Kensington and Chelsea and for all the other housing battles that are taking place across the country.

“London needs homes for Londoners, not investment vehicles for international hedge funds. Social housing tenants across the UK can take heart from this decision. Just because your landlord says it needs to be knocked down, it isn’t necessarily so. We call for a halt to the 10 year managed decline of the estate and for Clarion to meaningfully engage with residents and the council, so we can get people out of temporary accommodation and into a home,” he concluded.

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