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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Category: Homelessness and Housing

Eviction

  • The money owed in eviction cases is often small, but the consequences can be huge, By Christopher Huffaker and Kate Giammarise, September 6, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “In District Judge Robert Ravenstahl’s North Side courtroom, stacks of manila folders are piled beside the judge. An American flag stands in the corner. There are several water stains on the ceiling. On this Friday afternoon, he will hear nearly 30 eviction cases in about 90 minutes. Many of the cases this afternoon are tenants from nearby Northview Heights, a large public housing complex on Pittsburgh’s North Side…”
  • New law gives California tenants more time to fight evictions, By Aurora Percannella, September 7, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Tenants in California will get more time to fight evictions under a new law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • San Francisco rolls out long-awaited system to track, help homeless, By Kevin Fagan, September 1, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s wonky. It’s a bunch of data and names. And it will most likely save a lot of homeless people’s lives. For the past two years, program managers in San Francisco have been quietly crafting a system to closely track every homeless man, woman and child. The purpose is two-fold: to tailor housing, rehab and other services to them, but also to eliminate wasteful — and costly — duplication of efforts…”
  • Homelessness ruling: sleeping on streets can’t be a crime when no shelters are available, By Bob Egelko and Kevin Fagan, September 5, 2018, Governing: “Cities can’t make it a crime to sleep on a public street or sidewalk when no homeless shelters are available, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a case that could affect so-called “sit/lie” ordinances in San Francisco and elsewhere…”

Hurricane Recovery – Houston, TX

A year after Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s poorest neighborhoods are slowest to recover, By Manny Fernandez, September 3, 2018, New York Times: “Hurricane Harvey ruined the little house on Lufkin Street. And ruined it remains, one year later. Vertical wooden beams for walls. Hard concrete for floors. Lawn mowers where furniture used to be. Holes where the ceiling used to be. Light from a lamp on a stool, and a barricaded window to keep out thieves. Even the twig-and-string angel decoration on the front door — ‘Home is where you rest your wings’ — was askew…”

Housing Choice Voucher Program

  • Getting a Section 8 voucher is hard. Finding a landlord willing to accept it is harder., By Teresa Wiltz, August 31, 2018, Stateline: “As a prospective tenant, B.R. Williams learned early on she needed a script to woo potential landlords: Mention her stellar rental history. Emphasize that Section 8 housing vouchers are ‘pro-landlord,’ with most of the rent direct deposited each month. Always utter the magic words, ‘This is a no-fail system.’ Sometimes the pitch worked. But even then, Williams often would show up to look at an apartment, only to be told that it was no longer available…”
  • ‘Section 8 need not apply’: states and cities outlaw housing discrimination, By Mattie Quinn, August 29, 2018, Governing: “Washington state is the latest jurisdiction to pass a law to protect low-income renters from housing discrimination. House Bill 2578, which will go into effect at the end of September, makes it illegal for landlords to reject applicants based on their use of public assistance, including Section 8, Social Security or veterans benefits…”
  • Affordable housing program in Oakland helps keep Section 8 renters in place, By Kimberly Veklerov, August 15, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “As luxury high-rise condos replace Oakland’s once-affordable housing stock, city officials said Wednesday a first-of-its-kind program that gives financial incentives to landlords renting to low-income families is off to a strong start. In recent years, hundreds of housing units available for impoverished families have disappeared from the market. To recover some of the loss, Oakland officials are touting the new program that gives monetary benefits to property owners to remain or become Section 8 landlords…”
  • In Philly, two-thirds of the landlords won’t take affordable housing vouchers — even when the renter can afford the place, By Julia Terruso, August 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “When Paul Woods got a housing voucher three years ago, he thought that he’d been given a fresh start after a series of setbacks. Woods, who served in the Marines and is now on disability, had been living with family and friends, bouncing from place to place. But his voucher came with an expiration date: 60 days to find an apartment. Many landlords rejected Woods, 61, because of his voucher, he said. He found some who accepted vouchers but would show him only certain units — typically, less attractive ones. In Philadelphia, where rental rates are rising and affordable housing options are shrinking, his options were scarce…”

Legal Representation in Evictions – Newark, NJ

Renters getting evicted will soon get free lawyers in N.J. city, By Karen Yi and Delaney Dryfoos, August 11, 2018, NJ.com: “Newark has taken the first step to codify into law its intent to provide low-income tenants facing eviction with free legal help. Citing the lack of affordable housing opportunities and ‘frivolous’ eviction actions, the city plans to create a nonprofit that connects eligible tenants with legal representation in landlord-tenant court…”

Low-Income Housing

  • For Americans who rely on public housing, HUD proposals strike fear, By Erika Beras, August 10, 2018, Marketplace: “Clara Malave, 50, works in the hot and loud laundry room at one of the bayfront hotels in Erie, Pennsylvania, loading linens into massive industrial washers and dryers. At $8.80 an hour, it’s grueling work. But it is work, and she’s grateful for it. Like most of the other workers here, she’s a part-timer whose hours change constantly. She only knows a week out what her schedule will be. She keeps a carefully balanced checkbook and a list of her impending expenses…”
  • As NYC public housing tenants suffer, a glimmer of hope emerges, By Henry Goldman, August 2, 2018, Bloomberg: “Lolita Miller had it all: mold, vermin, crime, stalled elevators, uncollected trash and winter days without heat or hot water. After almost half a century living in New York’s public housing, she’d come to expect the neglect and squalor in Far Rockaway’s Bayside homes. So did most of the 400,000 residents in projects owned by the money-starved New York City Housing Authority. Yet a federal program changing how rents get paid has allowed developers at Bayside to tap into $560 million in private and government funds…”
  • A nonprofit got special loans and tax breaks for low-income housing. Dealmakers collected millions in fees. And buildings deteriorated., By Joe Mahr, August 16, 2018, Chicago Tribune: “A newly formed charity came to Chicago pitching state officials on its “model” way to provide low-income housing. The Ohio-based Better Housing Foundation said it would provide safe apartments. It would help tenants get jobs and health care. And it wouldn’t evict ‘solely on the basis that the tenant is unable to pay their rent.’ Starting in early 2016, with little scrutiny, a pair of state agencies helped the nonprofit borrow tens of millions of dollars at lower interest rates and obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax breaks that allowed it to rapidly buy dozens of buildings across the South Side. But a Tribune investigation has found that many residents have been left to live in deteriorating buildings…”

Public Housing – East St. Louis, IL

Ben Carson declared mission accomplished in East St. Louis — where public housing is still a disaster., By Molly Parker, August 8, 2018, The Southern Illinoisan: “The city’s administrative building was decorated for a festive affair when U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson arrived here last September. An Americana themed banner draped the back of a raised stage. Red, white and blue balloons floated in the foreground. ‘This is really an exciting day,’ Carson told a crowd of a few dozen city and community leaders. ‘It is a day of transition and a day of progress.’ In October 1985, HUD officials arrived here unannounced and seized control of the East St. Louis Housing Authority, citing poor living conditions and fraud. Carson was in town to return it to local control…”

Low-Income Households and Utility Costs

High energy bills burden Atlanta’s low-income residents, By Anastaciah Ondieki, August 1, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Month after month, they come — dozens of families looking for financial assistance to keep their lights on, their air conditioning or heat running. These are the people who don’t qualify for government assistance or other local programs, said Kevin Murriel, the pastor at Cascade United Methodist Church in Fulton County. Yet, they still need help, he said, and will continue to — until some deep-seated societal and economic injustices are resolved…”

 

Low-Income Housing

  • As affordable housing crisis grows, HUD sits on the sidelines, By Glenn Thrush, July 27, 2018, New York Times: “The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need. The Trump administration’s main policy response, unveiled this spring by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development: a plan to triple rents for about 712,000 of the poorest tenants receiving federal housing aid and to loosen the cap on rents on 4.5 million households enrolled in federal voucher and public housing programs nationwide, with the goal of moving longtime tenants out of the system to make way for new ones…”
  • Afraid of “political repercussions,” HUD delayed action on crumbling public housing in Cairo, By Molly Parker, July 26, 2018, The Southern Illinoisan: “As public housing deteriorated in Illinois’ southernmost city, bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development delayed stepping in because they wanted to avoid ‘political repercussions’ and negative attention, according to a scathing audit released Thursday…”
  • Under city program, renters-turned-homeowners could become renters again, By Nikita Stewart, July 29, 2018, New York Times: “Robert Mattox was not in the position to own a home. He was raising seven children in 1980 when New York City turned his Harlem building into a cooperative. He was asked if he wanted to buy his three-bedroom apartment. The city began turning deteriorating buildings over to tenants to save their homes and to help the city in the 1970s. The effort was envisioned as a way to improve a neglected housing stock but also give New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes a financial stake in their homes…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • ‘It’s the new form of affordable housing’: more people are living in their cars, By Mattie Quinn, July 24, 2018, Governing: “When a homeless count was conducted in Seattle this year, the city realized that more people are living in their car than ever before and 46 percent more than the year prior. In King County, which surrounds Seattle, around 25 percent of the homeless population is reported to live in their vehicles. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Seattle…”
  • 22% surge in number of older homeless people catches L.A. officials off guard, By Gale Holland, July 19, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Andrea Colucci’s long, slow slide into homelessness began, as it does for many, with medical bills. At the age of 67, she had decided to finally transition as a transgender woman. Her insurer balked at paying her surgeon’s bills, so she put them on credit cards. Then her post-surgery housing plans fell through. A hospital put her out on the sidewalk in a paper gown…”
  • Tiny home village for homeless thriving in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, By Joe Rubino, July 27, 2018, Denver Post: “From the start, supporters have hoped Beloved Community Village would help people beyond the 13 residents who moved off Denver’s streets and into its 8-foot-by-12-foot tiny homes last July. The village, 11 homes, a bathhouse, two portable toilets and a circular common building bounded by a brightly decorated chain-link fence at the corner of 38th and Blake streets, was meant to be a pioneer. It’s a pilot project designed to demonstrate tiny homes, arranged in a community where rules are set by the residents themselves,  should be part of the solution to combating homelessness in Denver…”
  • Seattle citywide day of media coverage on homelessness, compilation of articles, July 19, 2018, Crosscut: “It’s nearly impossible to avoid the tent-homes clustered in the nooks and crannies of Seattle’s cityscape. Every night and every day, thousands of this booming city’s residents find respite in these meager shelters. Others rest their heads on park benches, bus seats and concrete. Today, Crosscut joins a host of local media organizations in dedicating our website and social channels to the stories of these people. Below we’ll be tracking all of the stories produced today, including a joint project by Crosscut, The Seattle Times, KUOW and SeattlePI.com featuring a series of in-depth stories on the changing dynamics of homelessness in Seattle…”

Low-Income Households and Utility Costs

Energy drain: Low-income households typically pay a higher percentage of income for utilities, By Kate Giammarise, July 9, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Retiree William M. Williams lives on Susquehanna Street in Homewood, in a three-bedroom house. ‘This house gets real cold in the winter,’ said Mr. Williams, who retired after working as a maintenance man and ironworker. ‘You can feel the drafts coming through the doorways. … More than likely, I need some insulation’ in the attic, he said. On this recent June day, there are several people in his home — from the basement to the attic and everywhere in between — testing safety and energy efficiency measures…”

Federal Housing Assistance

  • HUD floats a plan intended to reduce reliance on housing assistance, By Glenn Thrush, April 25, 2018, New Your Times: “The Trump administration has proposed legislation that could triple rents on the poorest tenants in federally subsidized housing as part of a push to redefine housing assistance as a temporary benefit instead of the permanent source of shelter it has become for millions of poor people…”
  • HUD wants low-income families on housing assistance to pay more rent, By Rene Marsh, Greg Wallace and Tami Luhby, April 25, 2018, CNN Money: “Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced Wednesday a proposal that would increase rent payments for more than two million of the nation’s poorest…”

Section 8 Housing Discrimination

  • Section 8 discrimination is illegal in Dane County, but some landlords, renters don’t know that, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, April 19, 2018, Cap Times: “When Connie Shaw has to find a new apartment, her anxiety flares up. It took her four months to find her current Madison apartment. During the search, Shaw slept in her car and showered at a friend’s place. She reached out to landlords constantly, but received at least a dozen rejections and countless phone calls went unreturned…”
  • A “last frontier” of fair housing?, By Amy Scott, April 11, 2018, Marketplace: “Twelve years ago, Jill Williams had a stroke that left her unable to work. She ended up homeless, living between shelters and her car. Then in 2016, she received a Section 8 housing voucher for veterans. She’d served in the Coast Guard…”

Homelessness and Housing – California

California housing crisis: Working but on the brink of homelessness, By Kirk Siegler and Linda Wang, April 16, 2018, National Public Radio: “Family photos, Bible verse decals and wedding mementos adorn Jimmy Mejia and Patty Garrido’s living room walls in South Los Angeles. Despite their efforts, the decorations can’t mask the unpatched holes in the ceiling and the roaches that crawl around their kitchen. In one corner, there’s a hole where the drywall caved in after a recent storm…”

Fair Housing

  • Pursuing desegregation in the Trump era, By Teresa Wiltz, April 11, 2018, Stateline: “Fifty years ago, just a week after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and cities went up in flames — President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act. For the first time, housing discrimination was illegal. The law also did something else: It required cities to ‘affirmatively further fair housing’ — that is, to actively eliminate segregation in their communities. Civil rights advocates hoped the law would be the key to finally ending the extreme racial segregation around the country. But enforcement of the law was sporadic at best, and a half-century later, segregation remains deeply entrenched in the United States. In fact, some of the nation’s most diverse cities — those with large non-white populations — are among the most segregated…”
  • A house you can buy, but never own, By Alana Semuels, April 10, 2018, The Atlantic: “It was not until a few years after he moved in that Zachary Anderson realized that he was not, in fact, the owner of the house he thought he’d purchased. Anderson had already spent tens of thousands of dollars repairing a hole in the roof, replacing a cracked sidewalk, and fixing the ceilings of the small two-bedroom home where he lives in southwest Atlanta. He was trying to get a reduction in his property taxes when his brother, who was helping him with his taxes, looked up the property in public records and found that the owner of the home was actually listed as Harbour Portfolio VII LP…”

Eviction in US Cities

In 83 million eviction records, a sweeping and intimate new look at housing in America, By Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui, April 7, 2018, New York Times: “Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. “Put it in your car,” the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.  This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond…”

Public Transit System and the Homeless – Los Angeles

As waves of homeless descend onto trains, L.A. tries a new strategy: social workers on the subway, By Laura J. Nelson, April 6, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “The early morning commuters stepping off the Metro escalator paid little attention to the 10 people huddled under blankets and curled up in corners at the Hollywood and Vine station. John Gant, 60, lay sprawled on the tile floor, his hoodie drawn over his face. When three social workers stopped to ask if he wanted help, he nodded.  Over hot coffee and pages of paperwork, Gant, who had been homeless for years, called his mother to share the news. He cracked a rare smile, saying: ‘They’re trying to find me a place to sleep.’  The Metro system has been a refuge for homeless people for decades. But as Los Angeles County’s homeless population has surged, reaching more than 58,000 people last year, the sanitation and safety problems on trains and buses are approaching what officials and riders say are crisis levels…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • The hidden crisis on college campuses: Many students don’t have enough to eat, By Caitlin Dewey, April 3, 2018, Washington Post: “Caleb Torres lost seven pounds his freshman year of college — and not because he didn’t like the food in the dining hall. A first-generation college student, barely covering tuition, Torres ran out of grocery money halfway through the year and began skipping meals as a result…”
  • Hunger and homelessness are widespread among college students, study finds, By Vanessa Romo, April 3, 2018, National Public Radio: “As college students grapple with the rising costs of classes and books, mortgaging their futures with student loans in exchange for a diploma they’re gambling will someday pay off, it turns out many of them are in great financial peril in the present, too. More than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat and they lack stable housing, according to a survey published Tuesday by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab…”

Home Loan Discrimination

Redlining was banned 50 years ago. It’s still hurting minorities today., By Tracy Jan, March 28, 2018, Washington Post: “Racial discrimination in mortgage lending in the 1930s shaped the demographic and wealth patterns of American communities today, a new study shows, with 3 out of 4 neighborhoods ‘redlined’ on government maps 80 years ago continuing to struggle economically. The study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, released Wednesday, shows that the vast majority of neighborhoods marked ‘hazardous’ in red ink on maps drawn by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp. from 1935 to 1939 are today much more likely than other areas to comprise lower-income, minority residents…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • How many homeless live on streets? The number jumped 23% this year, By Tasha Tsiaperas, March 21, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “The number of homeless people in Dallas and Collin counties has increased again, up 9 percent from last year, according to data released Wednesday from the annual homeless census.  There were 4,140 homeless people counted in the two counties on one night in January, up from 3,789 counted last year. There was also a 23 percent increase in the unsheltered, those who don’t seek housing in shelters and live on the streets…”
  • Denver sold bonds to reduce the human and financial costs of homelessness. The results so far are promising., By Jennifer Brown, March 19, 2018, Denver Post: “They found Robert Bischoff by sharing his photo with a Sinclair gas station clerk who often sold him cigarettes. They met Alexander Jacob after sending his mom a letter, even though he almost didn’t respond because he figured it was ‘trash mail.’ The two men and more than 250 more people — all homeless and high-frequency users of jail, detox and emergency departments at taxpayer expense — have been tracked down by Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Mental Health Center of Denver outreach workers and given apartments through Denver’s social-impact bond program. About two years into the five-year program, researchers have noted a dramatic drop in jail days…”