Category Archives: Housing

WSU approves privatizing management of campus housing

Source: Kim Kozlowski, Detroit News, September 23, 2016

As Wayne State University works to address a housing crunch and transform itself from a commuter school into a residential campus, the Board of Governors on Friday approved privatizing the management of its on campus housing. The proposal created a 40 year agreement between the university and Corvias Campus Living to manage the on-campus housing. The Rhode Island-based company will be responsible for all property management while WSU will staff the buildings and provide programming. … The issue emerges as student occupany has exceeded on-campus capacity of the WSU’s three residence halls and three apartment buildings for three consecutive years. Overflow students have had to live in the Hotel St. Regis Detroit, or temporary housing – living space in the residential halls that normally is used as a lounge area. In 2005, WSU’s three residence halls and three apartment buildings were not filling with 2,437 students, according to spokesman Mike Brinich. But this year, all six units are at capacity with 3,131 students – and a wait list. …

The future of affordable housing in America

Source: Richard Burns, NHP Foundation, August 2016

The challenging problem of social inequality comes with more questions than answers: How do we ensure that everyone, regardless of status, has equal opportunities? Where do we begin? … Something needs to change. To tackle social inequality in this country, housing and related services must be central to the solution. Here are three pivotal components for addressing the affordable housing needs of the future. … There has always been a debate over whether affordable housing properties should be privately or publicly funded. But why? Public-private partnerships have a history of success. Some of our most beautiful parks — the High Line in New York or Stonewall Resort State Park in West Virginia — grew from public-private partnerships. If two entities can work together successfully in this arena, why not in affordable housing? Public-private affordable housing does exist: the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), responsible for the development or preservation of 2.8 million affordable housing units, is a perfect example of the power of public-private partnerships. But LIHTC must become more available. …

Why Don’t Housing Choice Voucher Recipients Live Near Better Schools? Insights from Big Data

Source: Ingrid Gould Ellen, Keren Mertens Horn and Amy Ellen Schwartz, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, June 27, 2016

Housing choice vouchers provide low-income households with additional income to spend on rental housing in the private market. The assistance vouchers provide is substantial, offering the potential to dramatically expand the neighborhoods—and associated public schools—that low-income households can reach. However, existing research on the program suggests that housing choice voucher holders live in neighborhoods with schools that are no better than those accessible to other households with similar incomes. Households, in other words, do not seem to spend the additional income provided by the voucher to access better schools. In this analysis we rely on a large-scale administrative data set to explore why voucher households typically do not live near to better schools, as measured by school-level proficiency rates. We combine confidential administrative data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on 1.4 million housing choice voucher holders in 15 states, with school-level data from 5,841 different school districts, to examine why the average housing voucher holder does not live near to higher-performing schools than otherwise similar households without vouchers. Specifically, we use the large-scale administrative data set to test whether voucher holders living in areas with good schools nearby and slack housing markets move toward better schools when schools become salient for them—that is, when their oldest child becomes school eligible. We take advantage of the thick sample of households with young children provided through our administrative data to implement both a household fixed effects and a regression discontinuity design. Together these analyses shed light on whether voucher households are more likely to move toward better schools when schools are most relevant, and how market conditions shape that response. We find that families with vouchers are more likely to move toward a better school in the year before their oldest child meets the eligibility cutoff for kindergarten, suggesting salience matters. Further, the magnitude of the effect is larger in metropolitan areas with a relatively high share of affordable rental units located near high-performing schools and in neighborhoods in close proximity to higher-performing schools. Results suggest that, if given the appropriate information and opportunities, more voucher families would move to better schools when their children reach school age.

Council meeting raises questions about office elimination

Source: Zack Lemon, Mansfield News-Journal, June 21, 2016

Some city officials are questioning how the decision to eliminate the community development office last Wednesday was made, and why certain issues were not brought to their attention earlier. The three employees who were notified all spoke at the meeting, presenting their case to council and the administration. Human resources director Dave Remy presented the city’s timeline, which law director John Spon questioned during Tuesday night’s council meeting. … Sam Dunn, the community development office’s current manager, is retiring on July 15. Remy said he and the mayor’s office explored finding a new manager for the position, but were not successful. … American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spokesman Dan Mapes proposed hiring a manager from a private company. … Ohio Regional Development Corporation is a nonprofit agency that currently assists Richland County and the cities of Shelby, Bucyrus and Ashland. Its president, Dale Hartle, was at the meeting Tuesday. The city contacted him and brought his company into the city, Hartle said, and he agreed to consider hiring the current employees. …


Community development office eliminated
Source: Linda Martz, News Journal, June 16, 2016

Workers in Mansfield’s community development department were told Wednesday the office will be disbanded when its current manager retires in July and the work they are responsible for handed over to an out-of-town nonprofit group. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spokesman Dan Mapes said he was told the city plans to hire Ohio Regional Development Corp. in Coshocton to handle work currently done internally within the city. The community development office oversees hearings on the city’s annual federal block grant and HOME money allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It supervises home rehabilitation projects and demolition done using those funds. … The city’s human resources director, Dave Remy, said city officials considered either hiring a new manager or outsourcing the work to an outside entity. “We came to the conclusion, with the urging of HUD and its Columbus office, to really consider going with a nonprofit corporation here in Ohio that deals exclusively with community development programming and works with assisting other communities in the state, Richland County and north central Ohio,” he said. … Three workers, Jerry Bandy, Debra Paseilich and Adrian Ackerman, learned Wednesday they will lose their current positions, effective June 27, under what was described as a reorganization …

D.C. Affordable Housing ‘Strike Force’ Wants a Public-Private Investment Fund

Source: Andrew Giambrone, Washington City Paper, June 13, 2016

On Saturday, an 18-member group of affordable-housing experts formed by Mayor Muriel Bowser last year released six policy recommendations to help the administration keep rental units within reach of D.C.’s lower-income residents.

The “Housing Preservation Strike Force” rolled out a mix of financial and programatic strategies in advance of a report expected later this month. The group has sought to identify ways to maintain affordable housing in properties that are set to lose their government subsidies in the next few years, in part by establishing affordability covenants. Preserving affordable units is considered cheaper and more efficient than creating them from scratch, which can take a few years.
According to the mayor’s office, the strike force’s six recommendations are:
• Establishing a preservation unit within a D.C. agency to identify specific affordable-housing opportunities, and to create a database of affordable-housing units
• Funding a “public-private preservation fund” to “facilitate early investments in preservation deals”
• Launching a program to renovate affordable housing in “small properties” of between five and 50 units
• Drafting additional regulations for the District Opportunity to Purchase Act, which allows D.C. to purchase properties that risk losing their affordable-housing subsidies
• Incentivizing residents and developers to take advantage of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act through “predevelopment activities, legal services, third-party reports, acquisition bridge financing,” and data-collection
• Creating programs designed to benefit seniors, such as “tenant-based vouchers or other rental assistance”

The new federal tool privatizing Minneapolis public housing

Source: Netsanet Negussie, Daily Planet, June 6, 2016

Samira had gone from one MPHA residence to another, followed by new problems and fears of eviction at each, with little communication from MPHA in the whole process. What’s happening at Glendale and in Minneapolis thanks to Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) has happened across the country. Housing advocates nationwide agree: RAD brings more problems than solutions to public housing residents. … In 2012, HUD Secretary Julian Castro implemented a pilot program, the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) as a response to growing capital needs. Public housing authorities (PHA) see RAD as a saving grace from increasing debt as it allows them to privatize public housing areas and incentivize continued housing assistance through tax credits. The infusion of private capital is promised to financially sustain affordable housing by addressing repairs and renovating properties. … HUD promises that RAD will maintain the number of affordable housing units for residents and encourages this pilot program to be enacted throughout the country as an innovative and “cost- efficient” solution. Since its implementation, 58 percent of PHAs nationwide have already applied for RAD, including the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. …


Mpls residents protest privatizing public housing
Source: Wayne Nealis, Spokesman-Reporter, March 31, 2016

About 30 residents and their supporters delivered 1,000 signatures to the council meeting on March 30, demanding their homes be repaired and their community be preserved, not demolished. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), which owns the 64-year old historic public housing complex, says it doesn’t have the funds to renew the buildings and has proposed selling the property to private developers. … Proposed development options call for demolishing the 184 townhomes and replacing them with high-density market rate housing. The MPHA says the project would include 184 subsidized units for existing residents to return to after construction is complete. Residents contend that public housing communities once dispersed never come together again. … MPHA promises to give residents Section 8 housing vouchers, but as organizer Ladan Yusuf contended, it is an empty promise when there are 12,000 people on the waiting list for vouchers and few landlords in Minneapolis willing to accept them.

Residents Resist Public Housing Privatization in Minneapolis
Source: Chris Gray, Socialist Alternative, June 9, 2015

…. The current proposal is to bulldoze Glendale Townhomes and evict residents during the construction process to make way for the construction of a 500 unit privately owned apartment complex, of which 184 units would be reserved for residents with Section 8 vouchers. MPHA officials maintain that the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program is a “sustainable” way to continue to fund public housing, which is currently experiencing a budget shortfall. Organizers point out that the budget shortfall is manufactured, part of the arbitrary “sequestration” cuts to federal programs last year, and that the city has the funds to cover the difference if affordable housing were a real priority.

Privatized housing program paying off for University System of Georgia

Source: Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle, May 10, 2016

A student housing privatization initiative launched this school year by the University System of Georgia is paying early dividends. Four of seven campuses that participated in the program during the 2015-16 term saw increases in occupancy of student housing, with Columbus State University jumping from 90 percent occupancy to 99 percent, Jonathan Lucia, who manages the student housing portfolio for the university system told members of the Board of Regents Tuesday. … The university system signed a $517 million agreement with Corvais Campus Living in November 2014 to develop 3,753 new beds and manage 6,195 existing beds at nine institutions, a privatization initiative expected to save money and, thus, help maintain the affordability of student housing. Lucia said the program is projecting a 3.3 percent reduction in operating costs during its first year, savings made possible by using LED lighting technology, working with Georgia Power Co. to qualify for discounted educational utility rates and through Corvais’ ability to tap into its national purchasing power.


Developer picked for Georgia higher-ed privatization deal
Source: Jill Nolin, American School & University, November 14, 2014

Corvias beat out Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions LLC and Education Realty Trust Inc. for the job.
The University System of Georgia has selected Corvias Campus Living to develop and manage nine of the system’s campuses under a $517 million deal. A first phase will include 3,683 new beds and 6,195 existing beds, comprising more than 3 million square feet of space, according to a release sent on behalf of Corvias. The agreement is for the next 65 years. Corvias beat out Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions LLC and Education Realty Trust Inc. for the job, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported. Corvias started its student housing division in 2012 in Cary, N.C. Georgia voters recently approved tax exemptions for private entities that run housing and parking operations for the university system….

Bill would extend college tax exemption to private developers
Source: Janel Davis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 26, 2014
(subscription required)

The state House passed a bill Wednesday that could let developers get a property tax exemption when they take over operations of university system dorms….

Universities seek housing privatization
Source: Janel Davis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 20, 2014
(subscription required)

The University System of Georgia wants to get out of the student housing business, and officials want a tax exemption to help them do it. The plan would involve the University System’s Board of Regents shifting a collection of campus dorms to a private company in a long-term lease deal. The system would retain ownership of the buildings and land, but the company would operate and maintain the facilities. To sweeten the deal, the University System is pushing for an extension to private companies of the property tax exemption that currently exists for the properties on the campuses of the state’s public institutions. Extending that exemption — which is part of the overall plan to privatize student housing — would require a statewide referendum. Legislation is expected to be filed on Tuesday to begin the process of getting the exemption issue on the November ballot….

‘Fragmented’ School Districts: A Complicated and Controversial Issue

Source: Mark Maciag, Governing, April 2016

Numbers such as these have long drawn the ire of policymakers, and in an era of budget cutbacks, “fragmented” school districts serve as prime targets for consolidation. At the beginning of this year, lawmakers in Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma all introduced legislation aimed at merging school districts or combining their administrative duties. But such proposals frequently are met with fierce opposition from parents and teachers. School districts with very small enrollments are actually quite common across the country. A Governing analysis of federal data from the 2013-2014 school year found that a third of all local districts were made up of only one or two public schools. Nearly half of all districts nationally — 46 percent — serve fewer than 1,000 students. While many of these districts are in rural or outlying areas, 2,050 are in metro areas. … But is such a system really more efficient? Elementary and secondary education accounted for 15 percent of Hawaii’s total state expenditures in fiscal 2014, compared with 20 percent for all states, according to a report by the National Association of State Budget Officers. Still, it’s difficult to gauge how much savings any particular consolidation would yield, given how differently districts are structured throughout the country. Oklahoma and other select states have already passed laws that cap local districts’ administrative costs. …


How Does School District Consolidation Affect Property Values? A Case Study of New York
Source: William D. Duncombe, John Yinger, Pengju Zhang, Public Finance Review, Vol. 44 no. 1, January 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article explores the impact of school district consolidation on house values based on house sales in upstate New York State from 2000 to 2012. By combining propensity score matching (PSM) and double-sales data to compare house value changes in consolidating and comparable school districts, we find that, except in one relatively large district, consolidation has a negative impact on house values during the years right after it occurs and that this effect then fades away and is eventually reversed. This pattern suggests that it takes time either for the advantages of consolidation to be apparent or for the people who prefer consolidated districts to move in. Finally, as in previous studies, the long-run impacts of consolidation on house values are positive in census tracts that initially have low incomes, but negative in high-income census tracts, where parents may have a relatively large willingness to retain the nonbudgetary advantages of small districts.

L.A. County supervisors vote against selling 241 public housing units

Source: Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2015

Low-income tenants got a reprieve Tuesday when Los Angeles County supervisors voted to hold on to 241 units of public housing at sites dispersed around South L.A. that housing officials had planned to sell. The county has been running a deficit for years on maintenance of the so-called South Scattered Sites, which are set aside for extremely low-income families. The housing authority had proposed selling the units to a nonprofit or other private buyer, on the condition that they would be maintained at affordable rents for a mix of incomes for the next 55 years. The projected sale proceeds of $32 million would have then gone to building about 126 units of county-owned housing concentrated in one to three sites. But in the face of increased concern about homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in Los Angeles, county officials decided Tuesday to hang on to the apartments. …

In DC, public housing tenants forced out, then homes flipped

Source: Ben Nuckols, Associated Press, November 29, 2015

In the rapidly gentrifying nation’s capital, real estate investors aren’t the only ones flipping houses for profit. The city’s public housing authority is getting in on the action — moving aging tenants out of homes where they’ve lived for decades, renovating them and selling them to wealthy buyers. The renovations, at a cost of more than $300,000 per home, are outfitting the houses with luxury amenities, and some of the houses have sold for nearly $900,000. Others, however, have sat vacant for a year or longer after tenants were forced out. The housing authority plans to use the profits to renovate existing subsidized rental units and build new ones. But most of that work hasn’t started, and none of the money has gone to new construction yet, according to the agency. Meanwhile, sales have been slow-moving and haphazard. Some elderly tenants and their children have asked for an opportunity to purchase the homes, only to be rebuffed, even after spending thousands of dollars maintaining the rental properties…..
Want To Buy Public Housing? D.C. Has Got Some For Sale — But It’s Not Cheap
Source: Martin Austermuhle, WAMU, September 28, 2015

Marketed as a “stunning renovation,” a rowhouse at 14th and Euclid streets NW sold in August for $920,000, down slightly from its asking price. That the 2,260-square foot, four-bedroom home was able to fetch that price in Columbia Heights isn’t surprising. Neither is the $703,000 that a smaller rowhouse — also fully renovated — at 13th and Emerald streets NE sold for late last month. But what is surprising is who’s selling these homes, and many more like them: the D.C. Housing Authority, the independent city agency charged with operating, maintaining and building public housing throughout the city. In recent months, the Housing Authority has been renovating and selling off single-family homes in some of the city’s hottest neighborhoods. The renovations — most costing hundreds of thousands of dollars — feature many high-end flourishes more closely associated with luxury than public housing: marble countertops, new hardwood floors, and stainless steel appliances. All told, 26 houses have been — or will be — listed at prices that reflect D.C.’s booming real estate market and the fast-changing neighborhoods they are located in. These are homes that the Housing Authority, and the D.C. government before it, has owned for decades. Once purchased for the purpose of housing low-income families in regular city neighborhoods — instead of isolating them in massive public housing complexes — the Housing Authority is now finishing off a decades-long sale of hundreds of the single-family homes. The hope is that the sales’ proceeds will cycle back into the preservation of existing public housing and help create new affordable housing units. In an era of declining federal support for public housing, Housing Authority officials say the money from the sales is vital to its mission. But critics contend that the agency is only furthering gentrification by selling off the homes — some of which stood vacant for years — at top dollar. ….