March 14, 2013
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Housing recovery has taken hold in the past year
Once the recovery began, it caught on quickly. Prices have risen every month since February 2012, and new home starts and building permits reached 4½-year highs in January of this year. This timeline shows how the recovery has progressed.  Reuters (3/12)
 
Trends in Housing
Homebuilders focus on markets where lending is looser
Although housing inventory is low in many markets, homebuilders have been biding their time, as potential buyers continue to rent because mortgage lending is tight. In markets where lending is loosening up, builders are buying up land in anticipation of future demand. Surveys indicate that the desire to own is steady, with nearly half of renters saying they'd like to own within five years.  Housing Wire (3/12)
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More borrowers access HARP loans after rules change
President Barack Obama made expansion of the Home Affordable Refinance Program a priority in his State of the Union address, but even without additional legislative changes, new rules implemented last year have helped spur lenders to make more of the loans. HARP loans now account for a third of all refinances, and up to 2 million additional borrowers may be eligible, according to analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  Bloomberg (3/13)
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Policy Roundup
N.J. could alter tax incentives for projects near transit
Officials from New Jersey cities including Newark and Jersey City are worried about state legislation that would change a program offering tax credits to residential and commercial projects near mass-transit facilities. The changes, which have bipartisan support, could draw development away from urban centers and out to the suburbs, they say.  The Wall Street Journal (3/11)
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Massachusetts works to house all homeless veterans by 2015
Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray unveiled the ambitious proposal at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans in Boston. The plan will aim to make 1,000 permanent housing units available, with 700 federal housing vouchers and 300 new and existing homes through the state.  Portland Press Herald (Maine)/The Associated Press (3/12)
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Location, Location, Location
Legacy of homelessness persists in NYC
Despite New York City's overall prosperity during Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure, homelessness has increased, setting records in recent months. In January, the city's shelters housed more than 50,000 people on average for the first time in recorded history. "New York City's next mayor will confront a historic homelessness crisis," according to the Coalition for the Homeless' "State of the Homeless 2013" report.  The Atlantic Cities (3/8)
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Mayor's affordable-housing task force: D.C. must streamline, invest
After a year of study, a task force appointed by Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray reported its recommendations for the city's affordable-housing program Tuesday, saying more investment vehicles and additional funding are needed, and incentives and permitting should be simplified. The recommendations are geared toward Gray's goal of adding or preserving 10,000 units by 2020, as various data indicate the district isn't meeting housing demand.  The Washington Post (3/12)
 
Mapping the U.S. housing recovery
Lost amid all the political gridlock in Washington has been one major positive indicator for the U.S. economy: The housing market is starting to rebound. Real estate foreclosures, mortgage delinquencies and vacancies are all on the decline. This article uses maps to drill down to the state and ZIP code level to analyze the most promising sections of the country for housing-related businesses.  SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Finance (3/8)
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Opportunity and Housing
Homeownership benefits both resident and community
Trends in homeownership are important to track, and responsible homeownership important to encourage, because of benefits both real and perceived, according to public opinion polls and research. Economist Robert Dietz of the National Association of Home Builders says the reason is simple: Homeowners are more apt to keep up their homes and improve their neighborhoods because both contribute to the value of their investments.  U.S. News & World Report/The Home Front blog (3/12)
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Jacobs was right: "One-size-fits-all" planning doesn't fit
Jane Jacobs' 1961 book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" proposed a revolutionary method of urban planning for the time, when the going thinking was that cities should redevelop large swaths of land at once. Recently, that hypothesis was tested when Duke University sociologist Katherine King studied community relations and the "age diversity" of buildings in Chicago neighborhoods. She found that, empirically speaking, slower redevelopment correlated strongly with stronger community ties, supporting Jacobs' premise.  The Atlantic Cities (3/8)
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The Economy and Housing
Employment gets a boost from housing recovery
The continuing recovery in the housing market is giving a boost to employment, with increased demand necessitating hiring of builders, architects, subcontractors and other workers. According to an estimate from the National Association of Home Builders, a single-family home creates a year of work for three workers, and a multifamily unit provides work for one.  Bloomberg (3/8)
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Housing Matters Spotlight
Urban Institute examines CHA's Plan for Transformation
The key successes and challenges faced by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and its residents during its decadelong Plan for Transformation are explored in a new series of five research briefs by the Urban Institute, a grantee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The research team, led by Susan Popkin, senior fellow in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, followed the experiences of CHA families as they were relocated and their buildings were demolished and replaced with new, mixed-income housing. The briefs also outline the lessons from the research for cities struggling with how to improve troubled communities and provide decent, affordable housing for the vulnerable.
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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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