Affordability advocates test real estate investment strategy | Campaign prioritizes housing for high-risk homeless | HARP reaches 3 million mortgage refinances
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February 13, 2014
Housing Matters SmartBrief

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Affordability advocates test real estate investment strategy
The Housing Partnership Network, a coalition of nonprofit groups, has become one of the first affordable-housing groups to form a real estate investment trust. The approach allows affordable-housing advocates to compete with the private sector's speed when it comes to buying homes. Unlike many private investors, however, the coalition wants to repair rental units and keep them affordable. Initial investors include the MacArthur Foundation, Prudential, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and the Ford Foundation. National Public Radio (2/11)
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Trends in Housing
Campaign prioritizes housing for high-risk homeless
Nashville, Tenn., is among the cities participating in the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which advocates providing apartments to homeless individuals who have spent years on the streets and who face the greatest risk for health problems. Advocates say the housing-first approach is a cost-effective way to help the homeless, in part because it prevents emergency-room care. "We are paying more as taxpayers to walk past that person on the street and do nothing than we would be paying to just give them an apartment," said Becky Kanis, part of the group that created the 100,000 Homes Campaign. CBS News/"60 Minutes" (2/9)
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HARP reaches 3 million mortgage refinances
The federal Home Affordable Refinance Program has helped refinance 3 million mortgages, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which administers the program. FHFA Director Mel Watt characterized the milestone as "an important accomplishment [that] represents real help to families and communities still struggling as a result of the mortgage crisis." Reuters (2/10)
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Policy Roundup
CFPB wants mortgage lenders to disclose more information
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering requiring mortgage lenders to disclose more information about borrowers and the rates and fees they are charged. Officials say more detailed data would provide insight into access to credit and would make it easier to spot discrimination. Reuters (2/7), The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) (2/7)
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N.Y. makes rental laws friendlier to tenants
New state regulations in New York require more disclosures from landlords seeking to increase rates on rent-stabilized apartments, and they will make it easier for tenants to challenge rent increases made years ago, observers say. Another change allows tenants to seek the state's help in obtaining rent reductions for service problems. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (2/10)
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Location, Location, Location
NYC mayor fills housing leadership posts
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has set housing affordability as a policy goal, has filled several positions on his housing team. Among them: Vicki Been, director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, will serve as commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Shola Olatoye, formerly vice president at Enterprise Community Partners, will serve as chairwoman of the New York City Housing Authority. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (2/8)
Report: Calif. low-income residents struggle with housing costs
Almost 1 million extremely-low-income families in California don't have access to decent housing, according to a new assessment by the California Housing Partnership Corp. The group found that foreclosures have moved many into the rental market, driving rental costs up by more than 20% as median incomes have fallen. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (2/11)
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Health and Housing
Senior villages allow residents to grow old at home
Senior villages that connect volunteers with aging communities have been growing rapidly in the Washington, D.C., area, allowing more seniors to stay in their houses as they age. The article cites an AARP study showing that 88% of people 65 and older want to stay in their homes as long as possible. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (2/6)
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Education and Housing
Commentary: Affordable housing and education programs go hand in hand
Affordable housing is essential to children's education, write California state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Jennifer Peck, executive director for Partnership for Children & Youth. "Housing instability hits children particularly hard, and can significantly affect their ability to engage at school or even their ability to attend school regularly," they write, calling for more affordable housing and more educational programs to help children who live in it. EdSource (2/5)
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Opportunity and Housing
Report: Housing policies segregate Twin Cities' neighborhoods, schools
Housing policies in the Twin Cities that concentrate poor residents in certain areas have caused increased segregation in neighborhoods and schools, according to a report by the University of Minnesota Law School's Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. "In the early 1990s, there were very few segregated schools in the Twin Cities," the report says. "Today there are more than 130." Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) (2/10)
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The Economy and Housing
Homebuyers take advantage of unexpected drop in mortgage rates
Mortgage rates have dropped due to investors putting money into U.S. Treasuries, and the rate decline is spurring homebuyers into the market. Experts had thought rates would rise due to the Federal Reserve's tapering, but just the opposite has happened, surprising many economists. Bloomberg (2/12)
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Learn more about The MacArthur Foundation ->How Housing Matters | The MacArthur Foundation
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.
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