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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

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…”

Minority Homeownership – Rock County, WI

Minorities are only a sliver of Rock County mortgage applicants, data shows, By Ashley McCallum, March 19, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “Wanda Sloan grew up in a family of five kids and two adults in apartment No. 21 of the Fairbanks Flats in Beloit. The flats were built by Fairbanks Morse in 1917 to house black individuals and families recruited from the south to work at the engine manufacturing firm, Sloan said. The firm planned to build the flats on the east side of the city, Sloan said, but built on the west side to keep black people segregated from the whites. Nearly 100 years after Fairbanks Flats were built and 50 years after the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Sloan says not much has changed for people of color in regards to housing. Data compiled by The Center of Investigative Journalism illustrate her concerns…”

Housing Discrimination – Rhode Island

R.I. bill seeks to end Section 8 stigma, By Christine Dunn, March 19, 2018, Providence Journal: “The federal Housing Choice Voucher program was created during the Reagan administration to give low-income tenants a way to find housing of their own choosing in the private market, instead of being limited to Section 8-financed projects. But in Rhode Island, that intended choice and mobility are often pre-empted by landlords who say: ‘No Section 8…’”

Affordable Housing

  • Need a basic 1 BR apartment on minimum wage? You’ll have to work — and work — to afford it, By Linda Robertson, March 15, 2018, Miami Herald: “For renters who need it the most, affordable housing is as scarce as ever in Miami. A person earning minimum wage would have to work 94.5 hours per week to make enough money to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report on the shortage of affordable housing for the quarter of U.S. renters classified as low income…”
  • Las Vegas worst area for affordable housing for poor, report says, By Michael Scott Davidson, March 13, 2018, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “For the second year in a row, Las Vegas was named the worst U.S. metropolitan area for providing affordable rental housing for its poorest families. Also, for at least the fourth year in a row, Nevada ranked last among the states, according to an annual report published Tuesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition…”

Student Homelessness – New York City

New York City is failing homeless students, reports say, By Elizabeth A. Harris, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “City workers assigned to help homeless students are desperately overwhelmed, leaving many of those children, among the most vulnerable in the public school system, to miss enormous amounts of school and fall far behind their classmates, two reports say.  Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been scrambling for years to stanch the cascade of families falling into homelessness, a wave that has become a crisis for the city, his administration and, most of all, the tens of thousands of people with no place to live. The two reports, scheduled to be released on Thursday, highlight how far the city has to go in addressing their needs…”

Housing Choice Voucher Program – Pittsburgh, PA

  • New system aims to give Section 8 voucher holders access to more neighborhoods, By Kate Giammarise, March 12, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “A new payment system, set to start April 1, could allow Section 8 voucher holders to live in more parts of Pittsburgh — neighborhoods they might currently find themselves priced out of, ones with access to good schools, transportation and jobs…”
  • Pittsburgh Housing Authority will ask HUD to delay Section 8 changes, By Kate Giammarise, March 14, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Housing officials in Pittsburgh will ask the federal government to allow them to not implement a new payment system — that had been set to take effect April 1 — that aims to give greater neighborhood choice to Section 8 voucher holders. Following pushback at two public hearings Tuesday, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to give officials more time to develop a methodology to give voucher holders more choices about where to live…”

Housing Discrimination – Washington

Lawmakers move to protect Section 8 recipients, homeless veterans, others on aid, By Ahmed Namatalla (AP), March 6, 2018, Kitsap Sun: “Mindy Woods fought her way out of homelessness. It’s a success story state lawmakers and advocacy groups are trying to replicate by targeting perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the homeless: rejection. Woods, 52, slept on friends’ couches for eight months and had eight property owners turn her down before she found a landlord willing to accept her Section 8 voucher, a federal subsidy that helps low-income people pay their rent…”

Racial Inequality and Discrimination

  • Modern redlining: Racial disparities in lending persist in Dayton, By Katie Wedell, February 24, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Dayton is one of 61 metro areas in the U.S. where minorities are denied mortgage loans at higher rates than their white counterparts — a modern-day system of redlining that keeps minority neighborhoods from recovery, officials say…”
  • Report: No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years, By Tracy Jan, February 26, 2018, Washington Post: “Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, ‘one black, one white — separate and unequal.’ Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified ‘white racism’ as the key cause of ‘pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,’ there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute…”

Los Angeles Times Series on Homelessness

Without a Home, series homepage, Los Angeles Times: “They’re part of the Los Angeles streetscape, as familiar as the swaying palm trees and idling traffic, living under freeways, alongside riverbeds and on canyon hillsides. The mentally ill, the drug addicts, the economically disadvantaged, many with their life belongings in a backpack or shopping cart. In this ongoing series, Without a Home, The Times is examining the crisis of homelessness in our region…”

Renters and Eviction

  • Landlord battles haunt Twin Cities low-income renters, By Max Nesterak, February 22, 2018, Minnesota Public Radio: “Lakesha Davis and her fiance Steven Perkins thought they’d finally landed a home, a house in St. Paul that offered a fresh start for them and four of their kids. Years earlier, they’d been forced from their north Minneapolis home after a grandson’s blood tests came back showing elevated lead levels. The landlord evicted them, Davis said, after the child’s pediatrician alerted a city housing inspector…”
  • When faced with eviction, African-American women in Madison struggle to find rent help, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, February 17, 2018, Cap Times: “Last December when Brandice Hatcher was eight months pregnant, she came home to an eviction notice…”

Housing Subsidies

Revised federal housing subsidies offer mobility to low-income residents, By Carey L.  Biron, February 13, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “Tiara Moore, a public school bus aide, has been living with her uncle and young daughter in a high-crime, high-poverty part of Chicago – and she’s wanted to move. Her top choice is DuPage County, just outside Chicago and closer to where her mother lives, but moving has not been easy because the size of the housing assistance she receives from the federal government has limited her choices…”