News Roundup

  • Google Invests $1 Billion in Bay Area Housing to Tackle Affordability Crisis
    On Tuesday, Google announced it will dedicate $1 billion toward efforts to create more affordable housing in the Bay Area. “We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for longtime middle- and low-income residents,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The rollout has two phases: during the first, Google will repurpose $750 million of its land for residential housing, and during the second, Google will create a $250 million investment fund that will provide incentives for developers to create affordable units. The company expects to add 20,000 new homes to the market.
  • Cities Reconsider Single-Family Zoning
    Single-family zoning has been the norm for neighborhood planners for decades—in fact, laws stipulate that 75 percent of the residential land in many US cities is reserved only for detached single-family homes. But soaring housing costs, racial inequality, and climate change have caused many states and municipalities to consider a shift in policies. “Every community has to have a moment of crisis that eventually makes you pay attention to certain things,” said Taiwo Jaiyeoba, the planning director for Charlotte.
  • Amazon’s HQ2 Is Causing an Increase in Northern Virginia Home Prices
    A new Washington Post analysis found that Amazon’s impending HQ2 arrival in Arlington County is already causing housing prices to spike. Last month, the average home price in the county was $713,000—roughly 7 percent more than last year. “The price gains we foresee do not reflect an overall bubble in housing prices but rather reflect the specific circumstances of our current market,” said Terry Clower, the director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. The trend is similar in neighboring counties.
  • Minimum Wage Workers Can Barely Afford Housing Anywhere
    A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found fair market rent for one-bedroom apartments in 99 percent of counties is not affordable to full-time minimum wage workers. A prospective renter would have to make $18.65 an hour to afford a one-bedroom unit, but many occupations pay less—food service workers, home health aides, and others often make less than $12 per hour.
  • Homelessness Poses a Public Health Issue
    Many people experiencing homelessness live in unsafe conditions in areas overrun by vermin, with limited drinking water, and with limited access to restrooms. With increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness—particularly unsheltered homelessness—experts caution that it could have broader public health implications. Last year, hepatitis A broke out in Los Angeles, and Louisville and Seattle have experienced similar scares. “People who view homeless encampments as something that’s happening to someone else and not affecting the community as a whole are incorrect,” said Steve Berg, vice president for the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “The whole community is at risk when you have these kinds of outbreaks.”