March 21, 2013
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Bill ties mortgage interest deduction savings to affordable housing
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has introduced a bill that would limit the mortgage interest deduction, but instead of using the savings to pay down the national debt, it would put the money toward affordable-housing programs. So far the proposal, which backers say would generate $200 billion over 10 years, has drawn mixed reaction.  Housing Wire (3/19)
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Trends in Housing
Inner suburbs struggle as resident profile shifts
Some first-tier suburbs are facing new challenges as urban redevelopment pushes lower-income residents out of city centers and into these areas. Officials say they have too much low-income housing and too many residents who need social services. "The rise of suburban poverty in the suburbs ...really deepens our challenge at a time when we are fiscally least prepared to deal with it," said David Sander, a city council member in Rancho Cordova, Calif. blog (3/13)
Home investors push rents down as prices rise
Investors' rush to snap up distressed homes has sent monthly rents downward while asking prices are rising, according to online listing service Trulia. "Investors are buying homes, in part, to rent them out, and that has added a lot of rental supply, and that's preventing rents from rising," said Jed Kolko, Trulia's chief economist. "It means some investors will start to think about selling those single-family rentals."  The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.)/Bloomberg (3/18)
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Policy Roundup
DeMarco: Mortgages need to move away from the government
Ed DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, told the House Financial Services Committee that the private sector must take a larger role in the mortgage market, a process he would like to see take place over the next five years. The challenge will be to reform housing finance without affecting the housing recovery, he said. "We've got to start moving that dial away from government," he said.  Housing Wire (3/19), The Wall Street Journal/Real Time Economics blog (3/19)
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Editorial: What Conn. needs from its new housing chief
Connecticut hasn't had a coherent housing policy in years, writes The Hartford Courant in an editorial, but Evonne M. Klein, the new chief of the state's Housing Department, could change that. Priorities should include a more diverse mix of housing options, a move away from income concentration and transit-oriented development.  The Hartford Courant (Conn.) (3/17)
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Location, Location, Location
Report: Wages make housing a burden in Maryland
If the minimum wage were raised to $10 an hour, residents of all but three Maryland counties would still have to work more than 40 hours per week at that rate -- and in some counties 80 hours a week -- to afford rent on a market-rate, one-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of income on housing. That's according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. President and CEO Sheila Crowley said what's really needed is more apartments and assistance for the lowest-income households.  The Baltimore Sun/The Real Estate Wonk blog (3/18)
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Affordable homes planned along Denver rail line
The nonprofit Urban Land Conservancy is using Denver's Transit-Oriented Development Fund to build 156 affordable units on 9.4 acres along the East rail line, which is currently under construction. The community will be built in an area of Denver where families often lack access to affordable housing, high-quality health care and quality education.  The Denver Post (3/18)
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Education and Housing
Schools in walkable D.C. areas perform better, data show
Data scientist Harlan Harris, president of Data Community DC, is looking at the potential link with school performance. Harris overlaid a map of the district's public and charter schools, coded by school accountability category, with walkability scores, and he found that many of the highest-performing public schools are in walkable neighborhoods. Family incomes also tend to be higher in those walkable neighborhoods, Harris said.  The Atlantic Cities (3/15)
The Economy and Housing
Permits, starts point to U.S. housing resurgence
Adding to accumulating evidence of a meaningful revival in the U.S. housing sector, the number of construction permits applied for in February rose 4.6% to a nearly five-year high while housing starts increased 0.8%, the Commerce Department reported. "We're optimistic about the housing recovery. We'll continue to see construction pick up. Housing continues to be a bright spot for the economy," said Anika Khan, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities.  Bloomberg (3/19)
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Housing market's turnaround creates challenges for buyers, sellers
The housing market rebound, combined with a low inventory of homes for sale, is leading to bidding wars among buyers and price spikes in some areas. The situation leaves some sellers reluctant to list their homes out of fear they'll sell before they can secure a new home, which is keeping inventory low. Meanwhile, builders are struggling to hire enough workers to meet the demand for new construction.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (3/20)
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Housing Matters Spotlight
New report shows decreased risk of mortgage default for energy-efficient homes
A new report by the University of North Carolina Center for Community Capital and Institute for Market Transformation shows the risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR-rated homes. The report, Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks, is the first academic study to assess the linkages between home energy efficiency and mortgage risks. Controlling for other factors, the odds of a mortgage default on an ENERGY STAR residence are one-third lower than those of a home in the control group. A mortgage holder on an ENERGY STAR residence is also one-quarter less likely to prepay, a risk from the lender's perspective, making the loans potentially more valuable to them. Additionally, the study found that the extent of energy efficiency matters: the greater a house's efficiency, the lower the risk of default. The study's authors, Nikhil Kaza and Chao Tue Tian, recommend that Congress consider the study findings as it considers mortgage finance reforms.
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About How Housing Matters
The How Housing Matters research initiative seeks to explore whether, and if so how, having a decent, stable, affordable home leads to strong families and vibrant communities. Research is showing that stable, quality housing has value beyond the provision of shelter; it improves school performance, diminishes health problems for children and adults, and decreases psychological stress. By illuminating the ways in which housing matters and highlighting innovative practices in the field, we hope to encourage collaboration among leaders and policymakers in housing, education, health, and economic development to help families lead healthy, successful lives. How Housing Matters is an initiative of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Learn more about The MacArthur Foundation ->How Housing Matters | The MacArthur Foundation
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