Category Archives: Housing

Policymakers Cut Housing Vouchers in 2017

Source: Douglas Rice, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Off the Charts blog, May 18, 2017

The bill that President Trump signed into law to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2017 has insufficient funding to renew all of the Housing Choice Vouchers in use last year, leaving a gap of roughly 60,000 vouchers. While some state and local housing agencies can use emergency reserves to close part of the gap, tens of thousands fewer low-income families will likely receive help this year, worsening the shortage of affordable housing. Already, 3 in 4 low-income families that struggle to pay rent receive no federal rental aid….

Poverty, Politics and Profit

Source: Frontline and NPR, 2017

An investigation into the billions spent on housing low-income people, and why so few get the help they need. The film examines the politics, profits and problems of an affordable housing system in crisis.

Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Fewer
Source: Laura Sullivan, Meg Anderson, NPR, May 9, 2017

…..Thirty years ago, Eldridge was the type of person Congress sought to help when it created the low-income housing tax credit program, which is now the government’s primary program to build housing for the poor. But the tax-credit building that’s only a little more than 2 miles from Eldridge’s house, where she might pay as little as $200 or $300 in rent based on her income, has a waiting list up to four years long. In Dallas and nationwide, many of these buildings don’t have any vacancies. In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it’s costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits. In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies…..

In America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, More Demand but Less Supply
Source: Patrice Taddonio, Frontline, May 9, 2017

More and more Americans are struggling to make rent. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people across the country are evicted. Today, in a joint investigation called Poverty, Politics and Profit, FRONTLINE and NPR join forces to examine the crisis in affordable housing, exploring why so few people are getting the help they need, and whether government programs designed to aid low-income Americans with rent are working as they should. One of those programs, called the low-income housing tax credit, relies on partnerships between the federal government and the private sector. The IRS gives billions in tax credits to the states, who then award the credits to developers. The developers sell them for cash to investors, mostly banks, and then use that money to help build apartment buildings. And because taxpayer money pays for most of it, they can charge the lower rents required…..

What everyone should know about their state’s budget

Source: Urban Institute, 2017
[tool was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation]

State and local governments educate schoolchildren, train the future workforce, care for the sick and elderly, build roads, patrol neighborhoods, extinguish fires, and maintain parks. In short, they’re pretty important. But few Americans understand where their state and local tax dollars go and to what effect. It’s not just the amount of money spent that matters, it’s why that money is spent the way it is.

Through this web tool, we aim to fill that knowledge gap. The tool allows users to get under the hood of their government and understand not only how much a state spends but also what drives that spending.

To do this, we apply a basic framework to all major areas of government spending. The framework says that state spending per capita is both a function of how many people receive a service and how much that service costs the state for each recipient. ….

…In this tool, you’ll see the spending per capita breakdown for all states and the District of Columbia across all major functional categories. It allows you to see how each state ranks, and you can sort by any factor you choose. (One frequent outlier is DC; though included in the rankings, it often functions more like a city than a state) We’ve included some annotations to guide you along the way. By exploring the tool, you’ll gain a sense of how much each state spends on any given area and why states spend what they do. ….

Resistance Manual

Source: Stay Woke, 2017

This Wiki is a collective resource, a hub of knowledge and resources to help you resist Trump’s agenda. Add new issues or make additions to any page on this site. Quality submissions will be reviewed and published here.

Topics include:
Trump / GOP Policy Agenda
Obamacare / ACA
Voting Rights
Mass Incarceration
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
Housing and Infrastructure
Women’s Rights / Reproductive Justice
LGBTQ Equality
Educational Justice
Muslim Ban / Registry
Consumer / Financial Protections
Climate / Environment

Essential Readings
find articles, curricula, and other readings in resistance

State and Local Pages
find info on issues, elections, and resources in your state and city

Political Issues
Political Appointments
Executive Actions
Trump Endorsers and Influencers
Mass Surveillance
Media Normalization
Societal Consequences of Trumpism
Institutional Racism

Crisis Resources
Tools of Resistance
People and Organizations
Upcoming Events/Opportunities

LGR: Local Government Review

Source: Public Management (PM), Special Section, December 2016
(subscription required)

In the tradition of The Municipal Year Book, LGR: Local Government Review—a special section of Public Management (PM)—will present key research findings and expert insights about local government issues and trends. This is the first in what we anticipate being a series of LGR special sections.

Sustainability and Local Governments: Planning Helps Balance Environmental, Economic, and Social Equity Priorities
ICMA’s sustainability survey indicates that many local governments now recognize the important role that environmental protection plays in establishing a foundation for both short- and long-term economic development. Funding and economic development drive sustainability, and lack of funding is the number one barrier to sustainability. The survey also shows that attention to sustainability’s third dimension, social equity, lags behind. Higher inclusion of social equity concerns in disaster planning may provide a template for integrating social equity issues more effectively into sustainability plans. The survey also found that local governments seem to learn best from each other.

Tackling the Housing Affordability Crisis: The Critical Role of Local Government Leadership
As income growth lags behind growth in housing costs, housing affordability is a growing concern in post-recession America. Local governments play a critical role in assessing the specific housing needs of the communities they serve, then developing and implementing customized strategies to effectively meet those needs. Three case studies highlight the unique challenges and targeted strategies of three cities—Miami, Florida; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; and San Antonio, Texas.

Supreme Court Review for Local Governments: Quick roundup of last term’s cases affecting cities and counties

Why Local Governments Are Talking about Millennials: Shifting demographics make succession planning a high priority
Demographic shifts explain why organizations are paying so much attention to Millennials. In just four years, people born in 1978 or later will make up 56 percent of the workforce. The percentage of baby boomers—27 percent of the workforce in 2016—will decline to 17 percent in 2020, and Gen X will hold steady at 27 percent of the workforce. How does today’s local government workforce stack up with these broader demographic shifts?

Paycheck To Paycheck 2016

Source: Brian Stromberg and Mindy Ault, National Housing Conference, 2016

From the abstract:
As for any other sector of the economy, the ability of school workers to live near their places of employment is an important aspect of developing strong, inclusive communities. School workers provide essential services to their communities, yet many are unable to afford to live near where they work. Teacher-specific affordable housing programs are important but can also overlook the difficulties faced by other school-related occupations. The 2016 edition of “Paycheck to Paycheck” focuses on the affordability challenges faced by both teachers and non-instructional school workers by highlighting five of the 81 occupations in the Paycheck to Paycheck database: bus driver, child care teacher, groundskeeper, social worker and high school teacher.
Paycheck to Paycheck 2016 database

Jobs-Plus: Transforming Public Housing Developments into Places That Help Residents Find Work

Source: Jobs-Plus

The Second Generation of Jobs-Plus Programs: Implementation Lessons from San Antonio and the Bronx
Source: David M. Greenberg, Aurelia De La Rosa Aceves, M. Victoria Quiroz-Becerra, David H. Greenberg, Ari Oppenheim, MRDC, October 2015

From the summary:
The Jobs-Plus Public Housing Revitalization Initiative (1998-2003) was designed to raise and sustain the employment and earnings of residents of public housing developments. It had three parts: (1) employment services offered at on-site job centers, (2) changes in rent rules that provide financial incentives to work, and (3) community support for work through neighbor-to-neighbor conversations. The initiative was subject to a rigorous evaluation, which found that where implemented fully, Jobs-Plus boosted residents’ annual earnings by 16 percent, or $1,300 per year, an effect that endured seven years without abating. This report investigates how Jobs-Plus was replicated in more contemporary settings, analyzing the early implementation experiences of a community-based provider in the Bronx and the San Antonio Housing Authority in Texas, both funded by the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Main Findings:
– Providers in the Bronx and in San Antonio were able to enroll substantial proportions of residents of very large housing developments. This represents a strong early indication of program “saturation,” or offers of services. At the same time, providers found that the three components of Jobs-Plus — and especially their integration and coordination with each other — were difficult to manage in practice. Both providers generally placed residents in low-wage work, and struggled to find ways of helping residents who were already employed.
– Rent-based financial incentives were very seldom used by Jobs-Plus members, for reasons largely out of the control of program implementers. In the original demonstration, housing authorities could develop a variety of rent incentives, because they had legal authority to do so. However, in the SIF version of Jobs-Plus, the only rent incentive available to the providers in both the Bronx and San Antonio was the Earned Income Disregard (EID). During early implementation, EID receipt was very low (at about 1 percent of residents in the Bronx and 3 percent in San Antonio), despite providers’ extensive efforts to promote its use.
– Jobs-Plus cost $672 per household per year in the Bronx and $503 in San Antonio. These costs would likely have increased had residents made greater use of the EID.
– In the SIF version of Jobs-Plus, neither the community-based organization nor the housing authority appeared to have a clear advantage in providing services. Instead, organizations’ ability to implement the program appeared to depend on their administrative flexibility, their front-line staff members’ ability to work as a team, their ability to tailor their strong workforce development experience to a variety of participants, their ability to conduct vigorous outreach and marketing, and the strength of their connection to property managers.
– The Jobs-Plus “Collaborative,” a support and accountability body made up of local city agencies involved in workforce services, income support, and other social services, emerged as an important entity promoting strong implementation in the Bronx.

The salary you must earn to buy a home in 27 metros

Source: Tim Manni,, August 22, 2016

See below exactly how much salary you would need to earn in order to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home in 27 metro areas.

Key takeaways:
– Only three metro areas were more affordable during the second quarter: Tampa, Orlando and Miami.
– Mortgage rates fell in every metro on our list.
– Several metros saw substantial price gains during the second quarter when compared with the first quarter. Notable increases include: Cleveland at 24 percent, Chicago at 18 percent, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati at 17 percent.
– After a 15 percent increase in the second quarter, the median price of a single-family home in the San Francisco metro is $885,600….

….Please also be aware that these are salaries to cover the base cost of owning a home: principal, interest, taxes and insurance. You’ll need to earn more to pay bills and for spending money….

Airbnb and Taxes: What Other States are Doing and How Much Revenue Might Be Raised in Massachusetts

Source: Phineas Baxandall, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, July 22, 2016

In the last three years, in the face of very rapid growth of Airbnb andsimilar companies, several state and local governments have changed the tax rules for short-term accommodations. In doing so, they have cited a need to create clarity for a rapidly changing industry, to level the playing field between new and more traditional accommodations, and to recapture lost public revenue.1 Others have opposed these measures as extensions of the scope of taxation, or because they seek more comprehensive health, safety, and zoning regulations applied to these rentals along with taxation.

Taxes on hotel stays were created long before the Internet or Airbnb, and it has taken states time to catch up to the rapid change in this industry. In the past, people might rent a room to someone they knew, or allow people to rent by the month or at will; and state and local governments did not attempt to apply room occupancy taxes to these arrangements. Large-scale renting of short-term residential accommodations wasn’t practical before the advent of integrated online booking, reputation, and payment systems.

This month the Massachusetts Senate approved economic development legislation that would revise the state’s Room Occupancy Tax to end the current exemption for an owner-occupied “bed and breakfast home” that rents out three or fewer rooms. The new legislation would eliminate this category. It instead creates a new legal category of taxable “transient accommodations,” which includes any vacation, leisure, or short-term accommodation offered in exchange for rent that wouldn’t qualify as a hotel, motel, lodging house, or bed and breakfast establishment (categories that are already taxed under the law). If enacted, Massachusetts would join 20 other states where statewide or local rules have extended short-term rental taxes to booking arrangements like Airbnb.2