December 20, 2012
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Young Americans end up homeless as job market struggles
Across America, tens of thousands of jobless or underemployed young people are living on the street, in a car or a homeless shelter, or anywhere they can stay out of sight to avoid the stigma of homelessness. Among adults, 18- to 24-year-olds have the highest unemployment rate.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/18)
Analysts expect gains in home prices in 2013
Home prices could rise as much as 9.7% next year if the U.S. sees strong economic growth, JPMorgan Chase analysts say in a report. The forecast is based on a significant rise in "net demand" for homes this year. Standard & Poor's expects a 5% gain in home prices in 2013.  The Wall Street Journal/Real Time Economics blog (12/14)
Trends in Housing
Homeowners want more space and urban amenities, research finds
Builders and architects report increasing interest in larger homes. However, Americans are not as focused on suburbs as they once were, says the American Institute of Architects. "In many areas, we are seeing more interest in urban infill locations than in remote exurbs, which is having a pronounced shift in neighborhood design elements," said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist.  CNBC (12/17)
More borrowers opt for 15-year mortgages
Low interest rates are prompting more borrowers to finance their mortgages over 15 years instead of the standard 30 years. CoreLogic reports that nearly a third of mortgages refinanced in the first seven months of this year moved to 15-year terms.  MarketWatch (12/18)
 
Policy Roundup
Reverse-mortgage program drains taxpayers
The Federal Housing Administration is on course to lose $2.8 billion this year and billions more at least through 2019 on reverse mortgages, according to an estimate by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The problem is FHA's guarantees, which reduce personal risk and amount to a subsidy for older Americans that allows them to spend down their savings. The agency now accounts for 90% of outstanding reverse mortgages.  The Wall Street Journal (12/14)
Law allows land banking in Pa.
A law in Pennsylvania that takes effect Monday will allow municipalities to establish land banks to assemble vacant properties and convert them to productive uses. Putting the land back on the market is expected to boost construction activity and restore lost home equity.  Housing Wire (12/17)
Location, Location, Location
Mortgage-relief spending is slow in Tenn.
Tennessee has been slow to match federal dollars with homeowners who need help paying their mortgages. Nearly two years after receiving more than $217 million from the federal government's Hardest Hit Fund, the state has spent only 13.3% of that money. State officials say many residents don't know about the assistance or are embarrassed to ask for help. Restrictions on eligibility have also limited participation.  The Tennessean (Nashville) (tiered subscription model) (12/13)
Education and Housing
Education and income inequality are intertwined in Mass.
Income inequality is rising in Massachusetts, a state known for its top-notch educational institutions and well-educated workforce. Changing labor-market dynamics contribute to the income gap, but experts say divergent educational opportunities among the wealthy and poor are deepening the income divide. Two communities in the state highlight the disparity. Some say expanding charter schools and school choice could help.  The Atlantic online (12/19)
The Economy and Housing
Walkability is key to cities' viability, author says
Cities that are pedestrian-friendly will be more competitive, says urban planner and author Jeff Speck. For example, he says, 77% of millennials want to live in urban cores, but they won't choose cities where they have to dodge traffic. Walkable cities often struggle with gentrification, but before worrying about that, city leaders should focus on achieving a balance of subsidized and market-rate housing, Speck says.  U.S. News & World Report (12/13)
Housing Matters Spotlight
Call for housing research proposals
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has issued a request for housing research proposals as part of its How Housing Matters to Families and Communities program, a five-year, $25 million research initiative to deepen the literature on the effect that investments in housing have on social and economic outcomes, beyond shelter. In the 2012-2013 phase of this initiative, the foundation seeks to expand the body of empirical evidence on the difference that living in decent, stable and affordable housing makes in the lives of children, families and communities. Research abstracts are due by Jan. 11.

For More Information:
How Housing Matters to Families and Communities call for proposals
How Housing Matters to Families and Communities research initiative
MacArthur's housing grant-making
About How Housing Matters
The How Housing Matters research initiative seeks to demonstrate 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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