Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 21-27, 2014)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

HOUSING & REAL ESTATE

Real estate boom bites nonprofits; Tech firms eat up space, pushing rents higher and leaving groups scrambling.” By Theresa Agovino. Crain’s New York Business. April 21, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 10-16, 2014)

Monday, March 17th, 2014

HOUSING

Retirement: Faith-Based Housing That Meets Evolving Needs.” By Jennifer Preston. New York Times. March 13, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 20-26, 2014)

Monday, January 27th, 2014

HOUSING

Stalled Bronx condo project gets second life; New Destiny Housing , a nonprofit specializing in housing victims of domestic violence, will turn the 39-unit building into affordable rentals.” By Joe Anuta. Crains New York Business. January 22, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 4-10, 2012)

Monday, June 11th, 2012

HOUSING

Aid for Supportive Housing Boosted.” By Laura Kusisto. Wall Street Journal. June 6, 2012. City and state agencies are collaborating to create hundreds of new units of so-called supportive housing aimed at the homeless. The effort is a rare move to devote significant funds to the creation of new “affordable” housing that includes support services for residents at a time of severe government budget constraints. Supportive housing provides additional support services, such as an on-site coordinator to help residents with special needs to get counseling, benefits and employment assistance. The state has committed $75 million of funding for the first year to creating more supportive housing, which is expected to be paid for, in part, by Medicaid savings under an initiative by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Roughly a third of the new funding will be directed toward supportive housing in New York City. Under the new plan, the goal is to double the number of supportive housing units produced in New York City every year to 1,000 units from 500. This is the largest infusion of funding since the city and state launched the supportive housing program, known as NYNY3, in 2006. The New York State Homes and Community Renewal will join with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the city Housing Development Corp. and the New York City Housing Authority. The program also continues a move by different agencies and levels of government to coordinate more on the creation of affordable housing. The state primarily will put up the funds, while the New York City Housing Authority will offer land and vouchers and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development will provide financing.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

HOUSING

Buildings Once Institutional, Now Exclusive.” By Fred A. Bernstein. New York Times. January 19, 2012. There have been times in New York’s history, in response to economic downturns, when large apartments have been split up into smaller units. This is not one of those times. At 607 Hudson Street in the West Village, a red brick building that was once the Village Nursing Home is being converted to condominiums by Flank, a design and development company in Chelsea. Not long ago, 607 Hudson housed some 200 residents, but soon it will be just 10 apartments, each with 3,200 to 9,600 square feet. And at 18 Gramercy Park South, where for more than 40 years the Parkside Evangeline Residence provided affordable housing for women, what had been a 300-bedroom building is being converted into 17 condos, each of 4,500 square feet or more. The creation of a small number of luxury units from buildings that once housed multitudes may seem incongruous, but developers say the decision to build large apartments is driven by the market. Indeed, there are many indications that the demand for super-high-end apartments is strong. In Manhattan below 34th Street, 27 condos of $5 million to $10 million sold in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 50 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Sofia Song, the vice president for research at Streeteasy.com. Mick Walsdorf, a partner at Flank, said that the dimensions of the former nursing home, with three street frontages and four exposures, were conducive to sprawling units, as was the location, in one of the most picturesque parts of the West Village. The conversion of public or institutional buildings into upper-class housing has a long history in New York. The former police headquarters at 240 Centre Street is a condo building, as are the former Y.M.C.A. on West 23rd Street and several former school buildings around the city. The onetime New York Lying-In Hospital, at 305 Second Avenue, is the Rutherford Place condos. To housing advocates, those conversions represent a victory for the wealthy. Jerilyn Perine, the executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, an advocacy group, said it was important that the city adopt regulations “so that denser housing, particularly for singles, has a fighting chance in the market.” She added, “It’s great to have people with a lot of money living here — we need their taxes and spending power — but the loss of density is tragic, especially where mass transit access is so great.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 3-9, 2011)

Monday, October 10th, 2011

HOUSING

Habitat For Humanity Marks A Milestone.” By Rob Manning. All Things Considered /National Public Radio. October 3, 2011. Monday, Habitat for Humanity dedicates its 500,000th house. The homebuilding charity is known for using volunteer labor to help build affordable homes for low-income families. In Portland, Ore., the organization has bought up 150 empty lots — enough to keep it building for the next five years. A look at the good that can come from the failing housing market.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 19-25, 2011)

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

HOUSING

With prices low, Habitat for Humanity snatches up five years’ worth of land.” By Elliot Njus. The Oregonian. September 18, 2011. After fever-pitch rate of building leading up to the housing crash, they left behind hundreds of lots waiting for houses, many taken back by lenders looking to unloand them — quick. That left one builder unusually suited to take advantage of the situation: Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit that builds low-cost homes for low-income families. So the organization’s Portland branch launched a fundraising campaign and started snatching up land. In the last several months, the group has built up a five-year supply of land, enough for as many as 150 houses. It’s aiming to pump up its production by 50 percent. Habitat sells volunteer-built homes to families with income between 30 and 60 percent of the area’s median. The families, for their part, make a 1 percent down payment and put in 500 hours of volunteer work for the organization. They then pay a zero-interest mortgage to pay off the construction cost of the home. Cheap land can significantly reduce the cost of a home, but it’s been difficult for for-profit builders to take advantage of low land prices. Most were left without much cash by the housing crisis, and lenders have been reluctant to take on housing loans given the dearth of buyers and falling prices. Some of the Habitat sites were projects started at the peak of the housing boom, then halted abruptly at the crash. The largest, a site at Southeast 171st and Division Street, was a community of 65 lots where only the first 20 homes were built and sold. Habitat will build the remaining 45 for low-income families.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 5-11, 2011)

Friday, September 16th, 2011

HOUSING

Not-For-Profits Get A Break.” By Thomas MacMillan. New Haven Independent (www.newhavenindependent.org). September 7, 2011. NeighborWorks’ Seila Mosquera questioned the tax man’s math. If an organization is collecting less rent by offering subsidized housing to poor people, should it pay less in property taxes? Yes. At least, that’s how the Board of Aldermen answered the question Tuesday night. The question was posed in the form of two items on the agenda at the board’s regular meeting. The items proposed changes to the way the city assesses taxes for properties owned by the YMCA on Howe Street and NeighborWorks New Horizons, a housing agency. Aldermen voted to approve the two proposals. As a result, the two organizations will pay lower taxes than they otherwise would have, in recognition of the public service they provide. The YMCA item sailed through; the NeighborWorks matter prompted a small debate. Some aldermen had wondered if it should be held up for further study, because the city assessor’s office had released confusing numbers on the deal. Hill Alderman Jorge Perez, chairman of the Legislation Committee, introduced the items to the board, starting with the YMCA. The city normally calculates assessments based on the fair market value, he said. But the state legislature passed a law that assessments can be calculated using actual rents, Perez said. That’s what the Y is looking to do, he said. The YMCA operates 80 Section 8 apartments and an additional 13 supportive housing units through the Housing Authority of New Haven. The proposal also included a change to a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement between the YMCA and the city, in which the Y would increase its payment, but still would not pay as much as it otherwise might have to. The deal would allow the Y to do a $12 million renovation project, most of which is being paid for with tax credits, along with a grant that has to be spent this year, Perez said.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JUNE 6-12, 2011)

Monday, June 13th, 2011

HOUSING

Lawmakers ask HUD for records on affordable-housing projects.” By Debbie Cenziper. Washington Post. June 8, 2011. Two key federal lawmakers are calling for a detailed accounting of more than 1,000 affordable-housing construction projects funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development amid concerns about delayed and defunct development deals nationwide. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), chairman of the panel’s subcommittee on insurance and housing, sent a letter to HUD on Wednesday requesting budgets, construction schedules, completion dates and photos of construction sites for every major project funded before 2007. The information would provide the most comprehensive look ever at the pace of construction in the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which since 1992 has provided $32 billion in block grants to state and local governments for the creation of housing for the poor. For years, the agency’s inspector general has chronicled delayed and abandoned projects in cities across the country. A Washington Post investigation published last month found hundreds of troubled projects, including some in the District, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. Because HUD does not track the progress of construction — only how quickly its money is spent — the agency often does not know when projects stall or die. “It’s like saying, ‘Yeah, I know I wrote the check, but I don’t know whether I received the goods that I purchased,’?” Neugebauer said. “We’re not talking about rocket science here. This is something that goes on in the real world every day. [HUD] doesn’t have a process in place that actually tracks the project and the objective. They seem to know that they sent money to Texas or Alabama or New York, but past that, I’m not sure that they know much more.”
Related story:
Million-Dollar Wasteland; An ongoing investigation into how HUD has mismanaged America’s affordable housing; A failed promise of better affordable housing.Washington Post. May 14, 2011.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (May 30-June 5, 2010)

Monday, June 6th, 2011

HOUSING

Renewing a Fair-Housing Fight; Group Claims Westchester Is Skirting 2009 Decree Over Racial Discrimination.” By Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal. June 2, 2011. A New York City nonprofit housing group on Tuesday asked a district court in Manhattan to step in and enforce a 2009 consent decree that settled a lawsuit over Westchester County’s alleged failure to enforce federal fair-housing laws. The Anti-Discrimination Center—which as part of the 2009 settlement received $7.5 million from the county and was subsequently dismissed from overseeing the settlement’s implementation—now wants to jump back in the fray. It claims Westchester County is skirting its obligations to enforce fair-housing laws, pointing to missed deadlines and a failure to provide sufficient planning documents. The center said the federal government and the court-appointed monitor aren’t adequately enforcing the county’s compliance with the settlement.
Westchester County disputes the center’s claims and said it’s actually ahead of schedule in the number of approved affordable homes. A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesman declined to comment on the center’s court action but said the agency is taking the case seriously. Currently, it is withholding $7.3 million in Westchester’s yearly federal housing funds until the county meets certain federal funding requirements. The county, a court-appointed monitor and the federal government each said they are working together to establish affordable housing across the mostly affluent area.