News Roundup

  • HUD Officials Admit They Knowingly Missed Deadline for Puerto Rico Aid

    Lawmakers are investigating why the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) failed to meet a deadline to issue a notice that would have helped Puerto Rico acquire relief funding to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. HUD published all notices except Puerto Rico’s. David Woll, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for community planning and development, admitted that HUD had “no statutory authority” to miss the deadline. Woll asserted that the delay was because of the administration’s perception of “Puerto Rico’s capacity to manage these funds.” So far, Puerto Rico has only received the first $1.5 billion of a total $20 billion HUD grant for recovery.

  • In Rapidly Gentrifying Brooklyn, Black Homeowners Are Targeted by Deed Theft

    New York City law enforcement reports that gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights account for 45 percent of New York City’s deed fraud (stealing the title to a house) complaints since 2014. People who orchestrate deed theft schemes usually do so with the intent of “selling [the property] at a huge profit” according to Letitia James, New York attorney general. “It’s really hot in the real estate market in Brooklyn. People want to steal our homes,” said Eric Gonzalez, the Brooklyn district attorney.

  • Economists Isolate Market Consolidation as One Cause of Affordable Housing Shortage

    New research shows that between 2006 and 2015, the number of builders who controlled a typical housing market dropped by a quarter. Authors Luis Quintero and Jacob Cosman of Johns Hopkins University found that this dwindling competition has formed oligopolies that cost the US approximately 150,000 additional homes each year. The researchers also found that between 2013 and 2017, home prices increased more than twice as fast as they would have without market consolidation. “If zoning... [is] complicated... then only large, well-capitalized, politically savvy developers will be able to build,” Brookings Institution fellow Jenny Schuetz said.

  • Facebook Announces $1 Billion Commitment Toward Bay Area Housing

    On Tuesday, Facebook announced a decade-long, $1 billion commitment to address the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area. The social media company aims to financially support the construction of as many as 20,000 new homes. One-quarter of the funds are dedicated to a partnership with California to build housing on state-owned land. “Progress requires partnership with the private sector and philanthropy to change the status quo and address the cost crisis our state is facing,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

  • As New York City Plans to Close Rikers Island Jails, Advocates Push for Affordable Housing

    Late last week, New York City Council passed a plan to close Rikers Island jails and replace the blighted detention facility with four locally situated jails. Now, advocates organizing under the “House Our Future NY” campaign are urging Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s administration to consider the relationship between mass incarceration and homelessness. The campaign’s key recommendation is that the city focus on creating 30,000 units of affordable housing dedicated to people currently experiencing homelessness. “If you want to shut down Rikers Island and reduce the number of people who are incarcerated... and if you want to end homelessness in this city, it starts with access to safe, affordable housing,” said Charles King, CEO of Housing Works.