Happy New Year! Here are the latest stories concerning affordable housing for February 2019.
First off, is the partial government shutdown. Federal workers are having to go without a paycheck until the impasse is solved, but the hurt will go beyond just those who work for Uncle Sam. Many low-income renters rely on assistance from Housing and Urban Development (HUD). With HUD not funded, that means they can’t fund rental assistance programs like Section 8. A letter went out in January urging landlords to not evict tenants receiving assistance from HUD. Nonprofit Housing developers, like Beacon, are also under threat. HUD mortgages are not being handed out which means developers are not getting paid. Beacon Executive Director Lee Blons notes that our current building projects are not affected at this time because they draw from non HUD accounts. As the shutdown drags on, we are seeing more and more stories about how this directly affects families in need of housing and soon could bring the eviction of many low income individuals and families.
Minneapolis is still getting lots of national attention for its support for inclusionary zoning which passed in late-2018. But as Next City shows, the city on the other side of the Mississippi River, Saint Paul is also making strides in providing more affordable housing, where more than half of the city’s renters are cost burdened. Next City shows what the St. Paul City Council did to further the production of more housing, including the creation of a Housing Trust Fund. Mayor Melvin Carter’s budget asks for more housing for people earning between 30-50 percent of the Area Median Income, preserving more Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH), and down-payment and emergency housing assistance. We will be looking at how Minneapolis and St. Paul move forward with affordable housing in the new year.
2018 was the year of the YIMBY or Yes In My Backyard, where people came forward to support housing. 2019 might be the year people take on NIMBYs or Not In My Backyard. For example, new California Governor Gavin Newsom has put forth a proposal that would withhold transportation funding to communities that have not produced enough affordable housing.
Seattle’s two tech giants have had a big role on the affordable housing front in Washington state’s largest city. Last year, Amazon tanked a tax on large businesses that would have provided funds for affordable housing. Now Microsoft plans to pledge up to $500 million for affordable housing in Seattle. Half the money will go into the production of low income housing in the Seattle Metro Area and the other half will go towards loans to preserve middle income housing near their Redmond campus.
Speaking of Seattle, a host of cities are trying not to be the next Seattle-San Francisco-Portland-Denver-New York when it comes to affordable housing. So who is the city that others should follow? Minneapolis.
That’s all for this month. See you for the March update.