All Articles Tagged "housing"
With interest rates and housing prices at an all-time low things are looking up for home buyers, but not so much for renters. Since the downturn the requirements for mortgage approval have tightened up leaving hard-working Americans who would normally be on the market shopping for a home, stuck in rental units.
In addition to the tough mortgage requirements, many neighborhoods are facing inventory shortages. The low cost to purchase has become so appealing that there has been a spike in home purchases and the competition for purchasing a house has become fierce. For example, the Phoenix metropolitan area with a population of 4.3 million has only about 12,315 single-family homes listed for sale. This equates to a supply that would normally be exhausted in less than two months, while local markets are usually stocked with eight or none months worth of homes.
This increased demand coupled with stringent lending rules has lead to a surplus in renters compared to available rental units. From 2008 to 2011, the rental supply versus demand has led to an increase of almost six percent in renting costs, while the income for renters has fallen by 3.2 percent, according to a recent report from the Center for Housing Policy.
In the past, federal policy has supported homeownership exemplified by tax policies like the mortgage interest rate tax deduction, or the first time home buyer credit. However, now renters are also looking for favor. A new MacArthur Foundation survey, found that three in five people, regardless of their political affiliation, say they believe the “focus of our housing policy should be fairly equally split on rental housing and housing for people to own.”
To boost the rental market the government issues the Low Income Tax credit, which gives tax breaks for building or rehabbing affordable rentals. The Bipartisan Policy Center has called for the government to increase these credits by 50 percent to spur more construction. And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities proposed creating a renter’s tax credit that would reduce the tax burden for landlords who lower rents to no more than 30 percent of a family’s income.
These changes could possibly lead to improvements in the unreasonable priced rental market, but the results will not be immediate.
Foreclosures are still a major problem in the United States. In fact, as Business Insider reports, foreclosure data from RealtyTrac shows that one in every 905 U.S. homes received a foreclosure filing in April. While these numbers have dropped significantly—23 percent from a year ago—there are pockets of America that continue to get hit hard with foreclosures.
Business Insider listed the 14 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rate.
On the list were such cities as Chicago-Naperville-Joliet and Myrtle Beach, Florida. Ohio made a few appearances on the list as well, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo and Akron. In that last city, one in every 211 homes received a foreclosure filing in April 2013. There are currently 1,481 properties in foreclosure. This represents a 97.99 percent increase from March and an 146.83 percent boost from last year. In Columbia, SC, 1 in every 415 homes received a foreclosure filing in April 2013. Some 789 properties had foreclosure filings. This marked a whopping 210.63 percent increase from March and an 189.01 percent boost from April 2012.
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach also made the list. In April 1 in every 269 homes received a foreclosure filing. The total properties in the area with foreclose filings were 9,127. Here, there was a drop—17.61 percent–from March but 1.06 percent increase from the previous year.
The crisis is pronounced across the board, with the impact hitting the level of wealth among African Americans particularly hard. The level of homeownership in this country has hit the lowest point since 1995, according to Reuters, to 65.2 percent. Among the banks with the most foreclosures, says The Huffington Post, are SunTrust, PNC, and HSBC. HSBC, for instance, has 16,317 homes in foreclosure with 60 percent of them “seriously under water.” That bank reached a $249 million settlement earlier this year after complaints that the bank wrongly foreclosed on tons of homes.
-Yesterday, we had word about the ways in which banks hadn’t changed their mortgage practices when dealing with homeowners in foreclosure. Now we have the infuriating news that banks are actually making a fortune on mortgages nowadays despite record-low percentage rates. Why? Because the rates could be even lower, but the banks want to drive up profits. The Mortgage Bankers Association argues that banks incur more fees on loans than they did in the past, but less competition and sales of bundled financial products are working in their favor.
-Accessories, and accessory designers, are hot right now.
-New housing units in Washington DC may drive down rent prices in that city. DC will have 6,000 new units by the end of the year. This doesn’t mean that rent will be cheap. The average rent in DC right now is $1,501. The national average is $1,081. The average rent in Atlanta is $868.
-The New York City Mayor’s Office shut down a Trojan event in which free vibrators were being given away from “Pleasure Carts” across Manhattan. “Bloomberg doesn’t want anyone to have fun. You can’t have a giant soda. You can’t have a vibrator,” said one unhappy bar owner, Melody Henry. It’s worth reading the New York Post article about the shutdown if only to see how many awkward plays on words they can get into one small story.
-And in Olympics news, Allyson Felix took gold in the 200-meter race. American Carmelita Jeter took the bronze. (Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took silver.) Also in track and field, Brittney Reese became the second American woman ever to take the top spot in the long jump and Aries Merritt won the 110-meter hurdles. Finally, the US took gold and silver in women’s beach volleyball. This was the third gold medal for Misty-May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, a first for the sport.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, it is stated that people who live in lower-poverty neighborhoods tend to have lower levels of obesity and diabetes compared to those who reside in rough, poverty-stricken areas. According to CNN, this realization all started after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offered residents of poor neighborhoods the chance to move on up (not necessarily to the East Side). While they were initially supposed to just be studying how where you reside affects employment, income and education, with the rise in the number of obese Americans, they decided to take their study a step further.
They studied 4,498 single mothers who volunteered for the program to get their families out of high-poverty areas. They found that individuals who moved to lower-poverty areas were 19 percent less likely to have morbid obesity, and 22 percent less likely to have the glucose levels usually connected with diabetes. According to study author Jens Ludwig, “Neighborhood disadvantages contribute to obesity and diabetes. Improving the economic situations [of families] improves their health.”
If you were wondering what is it about poverty-stricken areas that increases your risk for obesity aside from the usual, “No money to afford good food” answer, here are a few ideas, according to previous studies. Many struggling neighborhoods, for one, lack places where you can get healthy sources of food. Corner stores and local food joints usually don’t supply people with the healthy items they need in their diet. Who wants to go far out to the grocery when the corner store has some delicious delights too? And on top of that, the lack of medical benefits, education aspects and stress, a lot of neighborhoods don’t have safe places to exercise or where children can play at and work up a sweat. Interesting.
Can’t say I’m surprised about this revelation. It’s pretty true that you can’t really drive down the street in a bad neighborhood and find an LA Fitness or Equinox to get your mind and body right. But we definitely thought it was worth sharing. So the moral of the story is, the area you live in could possibly be making you obese–but let’s not use our residences as scapegoats either. You know when it’s time to put down that cheeseburger…
What do you think of the study’s findings?
(Wall Street Journal) — Among the toughest challenges facing urban architects are projects that mix market-rate condominiums and subsidized rental housing. Designs have to address the issue of moderate-income people living cheek-by-jowl with their more affluent counterparts in the nearby condos. Market-rate units must be lavish enough to attract high prices but the affordable housing can’t break the budget. Westchester-based affordable housing developer Ron Moelis, of L+M Equities appears to have cracked this nut with a mixed-income building in Brooklyn’s Columbia Waterfront district. Completed last year, all 42 condos have been sold, the 94 rentals have been filled and the hoi polloi are mixing nicely with the well-heeled. But Mr. Moelis didn’t accomplish this by integrating market-rate and subsidized units in the same building, or even by pretending that luxury for-sale condos ought to look the same as rentals for lower-income tenants.
(Chicago Tribune) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is down to two candidates for the top post at the Chicago Housing Authority, a job whose chief concern will be dealing with a stubbornly anemic real estate market that has hampered efforts to create vibrant mixed-income developments where crime-ridden high-rises once stood. Those developments are the linchpin in the CHA’s $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation, launched in 1999 and now expected to be completed by 2015, five years past the original target date. Getting the ambitious effort back on track has been tough amid the sluggish economy, even while the Plan for Transformation continues to impact huge swaths of the city — including the tens of thousands of public housing residents who were moved out of the demolished towers and offered a path out of chronic poverty.
(AJC) — Georgia may have one of the nation’s highest jobless rates, but a state program aimed at getting the unemployed back to work is being touted as the basis for a federal jobs program President Barack Obama will unveil next month. The White House is studying Georgia Works, created in 2003 and hailed since as a promising approach, according to a report this week in The Wall Street Journal. The White House declined Tuesday to comment what the president will propose. Georgia Works, which the state expanded last year and then curtailed for budgetary reasons, places unemployed workers in jobs for a six-week trial stint. Employers pay nothing and workers continue to receive unemployment benefits as well as a small state stipend for travel expenses and childcare.
(Washington Post) — A group of young black professionals in Anacostia has gathered over spinach-strawberry salad and white wine, when the conversation turns, as if often does, to what they call the “G-word”: gentrification. “I used to think it was about race — when white people moved into a black neighborhood,” said lawyer Charles Wilson, 35, who lost to Marion Barry in the 2008 Ward 8 D.C. Council race. “Then, I looked up the word. It’s when a middle-class person moves into a poor neighborhood. And I realized: I am a gentrifier. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t like that word. It makes so many people uncomfortable.” “Actually, I thought it was if you see a white guy in Anacostia, listening to an iPod, jogging or walking a dog!” joked Sariane Leigh, 33, who writes a blog calledAnacostia Yogi, putting her hand on her hip and waving a sweet-potato fry for emphasis. The friends fold into laughter. They agree not to use the G-word, at least for one night.
(Washington Post) — Plans to revitalize Northern Virginia’s aging suburbs will eliminate thousands of affordable rental units and price out low- and moderate-income families, according to a report released Tuesday by a housing advocacy group. Local governments are replanning the adjacent communities of Columbia Pike in Arlington County, Baileys Crossroads in Falls Church and the Beauregard corridor in Alexandria. Officials envision older strip malls and parking lots being converted into urban town centers served by mass transit. Of the 25,000 rentals in the revitalization areas, more than 11,500 are low-cost units that are at risk, according to the report by the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance.
(Washington City Paper) — Oh, Marion. Despite all his talk about bringing economic development east of the river, Councilmember Marion Barryis planning to introduce legislation tomorrow that would actually forbid new apartment buildings in his ward. It’s a very short bill, stating simply: “No District of Columbia government agency shall issue any permit for the construction of any apartment buildings in Ward 8,” unless they’re already underway. So… why cut apartment buildings, arguably the biggest growth sector in the U.S. construction industry, out of the housing plan for a depressed area?