Category Archives: Housing

Researchers to study University of Kentucky’s use of locally-produced food

Source: Linda B. Blackford, Lexington Herald-Leader, October 19, 2015

University of Kentucky researchers will study UK’s local food purchases more carefully in order to increase how much is bought from Kentucky farms. … In August, UK revealed that half of the local food purchases made by its dining partner, Aramark, were for soda and ice. … In the local column, Aramark reported spending $1 million for Coca-Cola beverages, $45,000 for ice from Home City Ice, $39,000 for Pepsi products and $5,000 for drinks from Ale-8-One, which in based in Winchester. UK officials said they had always considered soda to be local because Coke and Pepsi have bottling plants in Lexington.

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UK Student Group Remains Opposed To Privatized Dining Plan
Source: Alan Lytle, WUKY, May 12, 2014

Members of a UK student group say they remain opposed to the university’s decision to privatize on-campus dining services. Brock Meade, a spokesman with UK Students United Against Sweatshops, says it would be a mistake for school administrators to sign a contract with Aramark Corporation. “Aramark has a really poor track record of operation in prisons and schools and we think that here at the University of Kentucky we operate our dining services best and we don’t see why we can’t pursue other financial alternatives to keep dining services in house and public,” Meade told WUKY…..

UK to Begin Dining Contract Talks With Aramark
Source: Food Management, May 12, 2014

Announcement follows more than a year of assessments on campus dining service options. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto has announced that dining service contract negotiations with Aramark would begin immediately, with the goal of executing a contract this summer. …
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The Fight For Affordable Housing In D.C.’s Chinatown

Source: Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU, September 29, 2015
(audio)

In 1997, the arena now known as Verizon Center opened its doors in D.C.’s Chinatown. Less than two decades later, the area is visited more for its entertainment and dining options than for Chinese culture. While the development is welcomed by many, the neighborhood’s shift is being played out in a fight for affordable housing at Museum Square, an apartment complex that houses many of the neighborhood’s elderly, Chinese and low-wage residents. With the building’s affordable housing contract set to expire on Oct. 1, we examine the city’s struggle to balance development with neighborhood preservation.

Guests:
Jenny Tang resident, Museum Square
Rachel Johnson organizer, National Alliance of HUD Tenants
Sam Jewler affordable housing organizer

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Museum Square Residents Will Again Rally Ahead of Section 8 Contract Expiration
Source: Andrew Giambrone, Washington City Paper, September 29, 2015

….The rally—announced earlier in September on Facebook—comes just a couple of months after another event was held at the Busboys and Poets in Mount Vernon Triangle, hosted by owner (and potential D.C. Council candidate) Andy Shallal. This time around, participants will march through the neighborhood demanding that Bush Companies, Museum Square’s owner, cease its attempts to raze the site and replace the building with 825 luxury condo units and 17,000 square feet of retail space by 2018. Organizer Sam Jewler calls the expiration of the building’s Section 8 contract a “major threat” for Museum Square’s 300-plus residents, many of whom are Chinese immigrants. If any of the tenants move out after the contract goes up, the owner could replace them with tenants who would pay market-rate rents, though it’s more likely the owner would try to empty the building in order to move ahead with its development plans. Still, Bush Companies cannot legally evict the remaining residents unless authorized by District courts…..

D.C.’s Chinatown has only 300 Chinese Americans left, and they’re fighting to stay.
Source: Yanan Wang, Washington Post, July 18, 2015

….It was about a year ago that residents of Tang’s apartment complex, Museum Square, received demolition notices. The building houses roughly half of Chinatown’s remaining Chinese community, and although many could not read what was written in the English-language letters from the building’s owner, their African American neighbors helped them to understand: The building’s Section 8 contract was due to expire, and the owner planned to demolish their tawny home to make way for a new development. The tenants and the D.C. Council are embroiled in a legal battle with the landlord, Virginia-based Bush Companies. While they await a court decision about how much it would cost them to buy Museum Square for themselves, Tang and her neighbors are restless. They find it difficult to grasp that they might have to move away in October….. By law, residents have the right to buy a rental building before it is razed. Bush Companies is asking for more than $800,000 per apartment, an impossible sum for housing-subsidy recipients whose incomes rarely exceed $30,000…..

Developer Plans to Replace Museum Square With 825 Apartments and Condos
Source: Aaron Wiener, Washington City Paper, April 14, 2015

The Museum Square Apartments have been the subject of two lawsuits and three D.C. Council bills. Two lawsuits, several legislative interventions, and a whole lot of drama later, the low-income residents of the Museum Square Apartments in Mount Vernon Triangle still don’t know if they’ll be able to stay in their homes. But if they don’t, now we have a better sense of what would replace those homes. The Section 8 property’s owner, the Williamsburg, Va.-based Bush Companies, informed the building’s tenants last summer that the property would be demolished unless they ponied up $250 million to buy it under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. That led to a prolonged (and still unresolved) legal dispute over whether the $250 million price tag constituted a “bona fide offer of sale,” as required by law, with residents and some members of the D.C. Council calling it exorbitant and arbitrary. Bush justified the price by describing what would take Museum Square’s place if it were demolished. ….

Can Social Impact Bonds Help Reduce Homelessness?

Source: J.B. Wogan, Governing, September 8, 2015

… Last month, Santa Clara County announced Project Welcome Home, the latest local government initiative that leverages the social impact bond model. In the next six years, a nonprofit called Abode Services will provide housing and support services to between 150 and 200 long-term homeless people. The nonprofit will assign small caseloads to a multidisciplinary team with training in psychiatry, substance abuse, social work, nursing and vocational rehabilitation. The approach represents a combination of evidence-based practices, and is backed by academic research and recommended by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A group of funders is providing $6.9 million — mostly in loans — to make the project happen. Project Welcome Home’s goal is to house at least 80 percent of participants for a year or more. If the program is successful, the county will reimburse its lenders as each person hits certain tenancy milestones. For example, lenders will initially be paid $1,242 for every individual who stays housed for three months. … In the next six years, the county has agreed to set aside about $8 million from its general fund to pay back its lenders if Abode is successful in keeping people housed.

UPlace developers face lawsuit

Source: Caity Coyne & Jake Jarvis, The Daily Athenaeum, September 4, 2015

Developers working with West Virginia University allegedly failed to pay nearly $7.2 million dollars to the construction company that built University Place, according to a civil suit filed Wednesday in Monongalia County Circuit Court. Among other things, Turner Construction Company alleges that West Virginia Campus Housing, the company responsible for the public private partnership of the development, breached its contract. … WVU entered into a public-private partnership in 2012 with Paradigm Development Group to construct UPlace after the University’s Board of Governors approved a 5-acre land acquisition, according to a previous report by The Daily Athenaeum. Paradigm is WVCH’s parent company, according to the suit. … Once construction was underway, WVCH allegedly failed to make full payments to Turner Construction. Still, WVCH subleased the premises to WVU. … In July 2014, UPlace faced harsh criticism after it notified future residents that the complex would not be ready in time for its mid-August move-in date as originally promised. UPlace cited delays in construction after poor winter weather. Residents were forced into alternative living arrangements for most of the fall 2014 semester until UPlace opened in late November that year.

Developers get breaks to buy Baltimore’s public housing

Source: Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun, September 5, 2015

Baltimore officials have awarded tax breaks worth millions to developers buying a dozen of the city’s public housing complexes, some of which are being sold for far less than their state-assessed value. Under terms approved by Baltimore’s spending board, the city will excuse an estimated $1.7 million a year in taxes for at least two decades as part of a plan to privatize and renovate thousands of public housing units. … In all, the Housing Authority plans to sell 23 complexes — 40 percent of its public housing. Officials stress that the privatized units will continue to be operated as low-income housing, with eligibility and rents dictated by the federal government. … The developers buying the McCulloh high-rises will pay $79,570 a year in lieu of property taxes, less than a quarter of the $404,000 full property tax rate. Officials say the break was needed to entice a business to take on the project, the same rationale given when similar breaks have been awarded for large commercial projects such as Harbor East. … Baltimore is the 26th-largest city in the country, but has the fifth-most public housing — more than 11,000 units.

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Workers, Residents Concerned About Plan to Refurbish Baltimore Public Housing
Source: Fox Baltimore, June 11, 2014

Baltimore’s aging public housing complexes are due for a massive face-lift. Many residents are now worried about how they’ll be impacted by a multi-million dollar plan to refurbish their buildings. A “speak-out” as held Wednesday by workers and residents at the Housing Authority of Baltimore City to “demand that implementation of the RAD program is halted until they can have meaningful participation in the transition, and can explore more transformative solutions ….

Residents, union workers protest sale of public housing
Source: Danae King, Baltimore Sun, June 11, 2014

Sixty city public housing residents and union workers staged a protest Wednesday against a plan to sell the housing to private developers. Protesters fear the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s plan would lead to lost jobs, displaced residents and less available public housing. …The plan, announced in March, involves the city selling 40 percent of its public housing to private developers to raise money for upgrades and maintenance. The federal government is offering tax credits to developers who buy and renovate public housing. …. Union workers who perform maintenance and carpentry in the buildings also protested. Paul Wallace, 48 and vice president AFSCME Local 647, said the city is “displacing people.”
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Privatization won’t cure New Orleans’ race problem

Source: Antony Loewenstein, Aljazeera America, August 29, 2015

New Orleans still has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, though a recent study by the Data Center found a 67 percent drop in the city’s prison population since Katrina. The private prison industry appears pleased with its successes, contracting many facilities with troubled records. At least a quarter of New Orleans’ population gets by at or below the national poverty line. Illiteracy is rife. But not everyone agrees: According to a new study by Louisiana State University, a majority of white residents in New Orleans said they believe that the city has mostly recovered, while black residents reported the opposite. … Privatization advocates contend that Katrina brought essential reforms to Louisiana’s education system. But the facts tell a different story. “A key part of the New Orleans narrative is that firing the unionized, mostly black teachers after Katrina cleared the way for young, idealistic (mostly white) educators who are willing to work 12 to 14 hour days,” wrote Andrea Gabor, a professor of journalism at Baruch College, in a detailed story in The New York Times last week. “For outsiders, the biggest lesson of New Orleans is this: It is wiser to invest in improving existing education systems than start from scratch. Privatization may improve outcomes for some students, but it also hurt the most disadvantaged pupils.” … To be clear, poor quality structures were blights on the city even before Katrina. But the United States’ slow economic recovery has emboldened officials in Louisiana and elsewhere who argue that privatized services are far preferable to a well-financed public system. The flood of corporate donations to politicians augments these arguments. Disaster capitalism is a readily exportable commodity. New Orleans still pulses to a resilient rhythm, but those pushing for more private housing, schools and infrastructure are rarely held to account. Without accountability for the abuses of corporate-backed privatization policies, its advocates will simply move on to another city or country to maximize their profits at the expense of poor and marginalized citizens.

Housing authority privatization threat spurs larger campaign

Source: Jessica Ladlee, The Work Force, June 2015

…the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development is including White Plains Housing Authority properties in its plan to privatize up to 185,000 public housing units nationwide, a move that concerns CSEA members, including those employed by the White Plains Housing Authority. … Plans were already underway before expansion of the federal program for a private developer to build new mixed-use housing downtown that would replace the aging Winbrook public housing. … Long and CSEA activists are regularly attending authority board meetings and have reached out to authority residents to inform them about HUD’s Rural Assistance Demonstration program and plans for authority properties. The program is expected to fully privatize White Plains public housing. …

Battle over privatization of NYCHA centers

Source: Mike Lee, Public Employee Press, June 2015

On May 12, DC 37 and SSEU Local 371 leaders, joined by public housing residents and advocates, other labor leaders, community activists, and City Council members, rallied at City Hall to demand that the city scrap a plan to privatize the 57 community and senior centers operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The plan threatens the jobs of 100 unionized workers of Local 371. … With a $22 million budget, the 57 NYCHA-operated centers serve more than 5,000 children and seniors, and the proposal in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget plan to transfer the operations from NYCHA would deal a harsh blow to residents of NYCHA public housing, who number 615,000 residents, which nearly equals the population of Boston, Mass. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said, “If NYCHA was a city, it would be the 27th largest in the United States, so who would conceive creating a city where the seniors and the youth could not receive the services they are entitled to?”

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Possible NYCHA Privatization Riles Residents
Source: Scott Stifler, Chelsea Now, August 12, 2015

NYCHA assert that developing partnerships with private enterprises, increasing parking fees, and new building construction — some with market rate housing — will help the housing authority move from the brink of financial oblivion to a $230 million budgetary surplus over the next decade. Residents, however, expressed a multitude of concerns regarding the authority’s draft of its 2016 Annual Plan. … Most of the approximately 30 speakers called on NYCHA to offer more transparency and reaffirm its commitment to meeting the needs of residents while confronting a projected $2.5 billion operating deficit over the next 10 years. … Borough President Gale Brewer — the only elected representative of Chelsea who personally attended the meeting — told the panel that trusting nonprofits with the ownership of land on which public housing resides could risk their future, because “nonprofits sell land” in the lucrative Manhattan real estate market.

Fort Rucker housing now available to retirees, federal civilian employees

Source: Ebony Davis, Dothan Eagle, July 13, 2015

Military retirees and federal civilian employees in the Wiregrass now have the opportunity to live in housing at Fort Rucker, and their children will be able to attend the installation’s Department of Defense schools, according to officials. Brandon Masters, regional public affairs manager for Corvias Military Living, said the installation’s Allen Heights residential area opened recently to military retirees and federal civilian employees…“All excess earnings are placed in a reserve account that is controlled by the military to be used for the long-term sustainment of the housing and ancillary facilities over the next 50 years. Corvias will not make extra profits as a result of this change.” Corvias is a privately-owned company that was awarded the 50-year military housing contract in 2006.

University of Kentucky Trustees Approve Fifth Phase of EdR’s On-Campus Housing Expansion

Source: Student Housing Business, July 9, 2015

The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees has approved the next phase of the university’s on-campus housing revitalization that will bring the total number of beds delivered or currently under development to 6,504…The largest on-campus housing development in American public higher education to date, the University of Kentucky’s revitalization began in late 2011 when the UK Board of Trustees saw an opportunity for investment in student success by enhancing the undergraduate experience with new living-learning communities.

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University of Kentucky set to approve $74 million dorm project for upperclassmen
Source: Linda Blackford, Lexington Herald-Leader, June 9, 2015

University of Kentucky trustees are set to approve the fifth phase of new, privately funded student housing on campus, this time for upperclassmen and graduate students…The project will be funded and built by EdR, a Memphis-based campus housing company that is responsible for $422.3 million in construction aimed at replacing and updating UK’s aging housing stock…The terms between EdR and UK for University Flats are the same as those for the other 12 residence halls that have been built or are under construction by EdR. The company will have a 75-year lease and collect rent, paying back some of it to UK after meeting profit thresholds. For example, EdR receives a 2 percent management fee for operating the buildings. After EdR receives a 9 percent rate of return from rents, UK receives 25 percent of the net income…But because UK owns the building, EdR does not have to pay property taxes under a special agreement set up by the state revenue department.

Campus seeks to fund new dorms through public-private partnerships
Source: Jacob Blair, Eastern Progress, April 29, 2015

Eastern is taking campus housing projects in a new direction by seeking a private developer to construct new space for 1,100 residents and renovate existing residence halls. Barry Poynter, vice president for finance and administration, said the university was authorized $75 million during the state’s budget session in 2014 to pursue public-private partnership (P3) lease agreements. As state lawmakers increasingly cut funding to state universities, schools like Eastern have begun looking for creative ways to fund much-needed construction projects, such as new residence halls. One option growing in popularity is public-private partnerships–meaning a private developer takes on the risk to build and manage a facility and the university pays to use it. The Grand Campus apartments are an example of this arrangement. ….The University of Kentucky is spending almost $345 million to fund the construction of 12 residence halls by 2016, according to leasing summaries between the university and Education Realty Trust (EdR), a private housing developer for colleges and universities. The project will result in room to accommodate 9,000 undergraduate students in Lexington. The lease summaries list the cost of the new buildings at approximately $345 million, though EdR’s website said the agreement is a $500 million deal. The lease agreements call for EdR to construct the buildings, finance the building to develop and manage the buildings. The University of Kentucky pays EdR a management fee each year, but the university receives a percentage of the gross revenue. The university could receive a quarter of the net income if EdR performs well financially that year….