News Roundup

  • Homeless Encampment Residents Claim They Were Never Informed About Toxic Contamination
    In summer 2019, City of Seattle officials warned employees that they may have been exposed to toxic chemical compounds, including PCBs, during a cleanup of a Sodo homeless encampment. Although many of the former campers have had several points of contact with the city government during other encampment clearings, reporters recently found that residents say they were never told about the toxic contamination during these interactions, despite the city government’s claim that they were reaching out to affected individuals. “We find with increasing displacement of people from where they’re camping, it’s harder to connect them to resources like treatment and housing opportunity,” said Chloe Gale, codirector of REACH, the city’s contracted outreach partner.
  • Denver Hospital Partners with Local Housing Authority to Improve Lives and Save Costs
    Denver Post
    Denver Health treated more than 100 long-term patients in the first half of 2019 who, as they were experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, remained in the hospital’s care after their acute medical issue resolved. By transitioning these patients to new affordable housing on the hospital’s campus, the costs incurred by the hospital could decrease from $200,000 to $10,000. Peg Burnette, the hospital’s chief financial officer, reflected, “We might be able to help better their lives, as well as help the financials of the hospital and help free up capacity for the patients that need to come to see us for acute care.”
  • Reno Approves Plan to Construct 1,000 New Housing Units in Four Months
    Tech companies such as Tesla, Apple, Google, and Amazon recently increased economic development and investment in Reno, Nevada. This influx of tech workers to the city prompted the Reno City Council to pass a four-month initiative that incentivizes developers by delaying fees on new buildings with 30 or more units. Reno Mayor Hillary Shieve said, “We need housing now, and that’s where we came up with the initiative 1,000 homes in 120 days.” The city council says it will prioritize projects that center affordable workforce housing.
  • California Legalizes Public Banking, Could Boost Affordable Housing Funding
    Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Public Banking Act into law, making California the second state to allow city and county governments to create, or sponsor, public banks. Some critics express concern that public banks could set the stage for public corruption and self-dealing. However, supporters say the public banks in California would be operated by professional bankers and run by an independent board of directors to insulate and protect against self-dealing. Notably, this reform will provide public agencies access to loans at lower interest rates than those provided by private banks. These lower rates could set the stage for increased loans to developers who are helping meet affordable housing needs.
  • Split-Developments in Boston Raise Need for Zoning Reform
    The Greater Boston area comprises 125 unique cities and towns, each with their own zoning code. Many developments are built on lots that cross city lines. For one new senior housing development being built on a lot that straddles Boston and Brighton city lines, this means that one side of the lot will be a four-story building with 35 apartments and the other side will have two single-family homes. Some affordable housing advocates say this disparity is the primary driver of high housing costs in the region. “You cross a municipal boundary and rules change…. Places have more or less appetite for housing development, and that has an impact,” said Clark Ziegler, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.