February 7, 2013
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Housing recovery led by investors, not homeowners
In Georgia, home prices are rising, and foreclosure rates are among the highest in the country, writes Shabnam Bashiri, an organizer for Occupy Our Homes Atlanta. Banks are offering properties to investors for a fraction of the principal owed on them, and the investors are renting out the homes -- often to their former owners -- and securitizing the profits. That's a recipe for another housing meltdown, Bashiri writes.  The Huffington Post (2/4)
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Trends in Housing
"Great Reset" blurs line between cities, suburbia
The creative economy is among the forces changing the way we live and work, and as a result, the differences between urban and suburban areas are becoming much less distinct, writes Richard Florida. People are more mobile, in part as a result of the rise in rental housing as an alternative to homeownership. Suburbs have a greater diversity of residents -- no longer just families with children -- and suburban shopping centers are more urban in their design. "The most successful suburban and urban neighborhoods both have good transit, mixed uses, and green spaces; most important, they foster the interactions from which vital communities are built," Florida writes.  Urban Land online (1/31)
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Policy Roundup
Commentary: Next mayor must address LA's housing problems
Apartment supply is inadequate in Los Angeles, and high demand has driven up prices while incomes have not kept pace, write Raphael Bostic of USC's Bedrosian Center on Governance and Tony Salazar of McCormack Baron Salazar. The city's next mayor must address the affordable-housing shortage, foreclosure issues and homelessness, they write. Creating a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing and planning carefully around new transit stations are part of the solution, they add.  Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (2/4)
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Environment and Housing
Energy program makes Chicago apartments more efficient, affordable
Energy Savers is a Chicago-area program, supported by two nonprofit groups, that helps private owners of multifamily housing conduct energy audits of their buildings and finance needed improvements. Owners who make their buildings more energy efficient can reduce operating costs, leading to lower rents. The program has improved 10,200 apartments in the past four years.  Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (2/1)
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N.Y. governor wants to turn home sites into flood buffers
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking approval for as much as $400 million to offer buyouts to owners of homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, with extra incentives in some of the most flood-prone areas. The state would seek to ensure that the land is never again built on. Instead, it would become dunes, wetlands, parks or other types of buffers to protect areas farther inland.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (2/3)
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The Economy and Housing
Report predicts home improvement will soar
Home improvement will make a strong rebound in 2013, according to a report from the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. Rising home sales, low financing costs, greater job security and the aging-in-place trend among seniors are factors driving the increase, experts say.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (1/31)
Freddie Mac: Most refinancers maintained or shrank debt
A report from Freddie Mac finds that of the homeowners who refinanced in the fourth quarter, 84% kept the same level of mortgage debt or reduced it. The average interest rate reduction was 1.8 percentage points, or 33%. That's the largest margin in the mortgage giant's 27 years of tracking the statistics.  The Wall Street Journal/Real Time Economics blog (2/4)
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Housing Matters Spotlight
Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission to release recommendations
The Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission, a grantee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will release recommendations at 11 a.m. Feb. 25 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event will be live webcast on the Housing Commission website. The release event will feature Housing Commission co-chairs former Sens. George Mitchell, Kit Bond and Mel Martinez and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. The report is the culmination of a 16-month examination of the key issues in housing. Register to join the commission for the release of its recommendations.
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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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