Tag: Housing

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Highlights Five Cook County Communities in New Report

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, has released a new report, Homes for a Changing Region, highlighting the work of five communities in West Cook County. These communities received Community Challenge grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report will provide housing supply and workforce data that will help the communities plan and acquire property for future affordable housing and mixed-use developments.

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Listen to market demand, says The Economist’s Ryan Avent

To create jobs, drive innovation, attract talent and keep housing costs affordable, American cities would be right to address the growing demand for smart growth development, says The Economist’s Ryan Avent in a recent interview with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino.

“Well, my tendency as an economist, working for The Economist, my inclination is to say build with what the market will demand,” Avent says. “And so that’s why I think we have a great opportunity here, because what the market is increasingly demanding are homes that are within walking distance of job centers.”

Avent, a resident of Arlington, VA, and the author of The Gated City, emphasized that in building with market demand in mind, it’s also crucial to change common misperceptions about density. In his book, Avent uses the phrase “hogs stacked on hogs” to describe what makes people afraid of added housing units. The realities of increased density, however, are radically different and the addition of in-demand housing options contributes to robust regional economic growth.

“If you think about the sort of density that might work, if it builds around transit and a walkable environment, you don’t add a lot of the downsides that are typically associated with density, like congestion,” Avent says. “When you build in a sprawling pattern and force people into cars, that’s what actually causes congestion.”

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Smart growth stories: New York City Councilmember Brad Lander on building better neighborhoods with community participation

Where does change come from? Who comes up with the ideas and proposals needed to reinvigorate neighborhoods?

Ask New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and he’ll tell you.

“The community.”

To Lander, who has represented the 39th district of Brooklyn on the New York City Council since 2009, community involvement and outreach aren’t just buzzwords. They’re a source of the best inspiration and help shed light on the real reasons to move forward with any project; those that live in a community tend to know what’s best for that community.

In the 39th district – which encompasses the neighborhoods of Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Kensington – Lander hears the concerns of a racially and economically diverse constituency. From young urban-dwellers with higher education degrees to working-class immigrants, Brooklyn – like the rest of New York – has it all. For Lander to do his job successfully he must find ways to integrate planned improvements and Council agenda items with the personal goals of the people who elected him.

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Smart growth news – February 10, 2012

National News:

Editorial: Designing a Fix for Housing
New York Times – February 9, 2012

RECENT efforts to fix the housing market — including Thursday’s $26 billion settlement with five of the nation’s biggest banks — have focused purely on the financial aspects of the slump. A permanent solution, however, must go further than money to address issues that have been at the core of the crisis but have been wholly ignored: design and urban planning.

Highway Bill Tests Boehner’s Leadership
Wall Street Journal – February 10, 2012

The measure’s failure would be a blow to Mr. Boehner’s leadership, and he is scrambling to win support. The bill contains no earmarks, which adheres to Republican campaign themes, but the debate surrounding the measure shows how that promise, along with others to oppose big spending bills, can make it harder to govern.

Boehner uncertain on passage of $260B transportation bill
The Hill – February 9, 2012

Speaking Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., Boehner said he was not sure what would happen when the transportation bill comes to the floor of the House.

White House backs $109B Senate transportation bill
The Hill – February 9, 2012

The White House is backing the Senate’s $109 billion surface transportation bill, eschewing a $260 billion measure from the Republican-led House that GOP leaders have offered as their counter to President Obama’s call for a jobs bill.

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Smart growth news – February 1, 2012

National News:

Transportation bill throws bones to GOP base
Politico – January 31, 2012

No earmarks, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, cutting Amtrak’s budget, forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and ending mandatory spending on bicycle and pedestrian paths — what’s a diehard Republican not to like?

LaHood announces fourth-round funding of TIGER program
Jacksonville Business Journal – January 31, 2012

The next round of TIGER funding, called TIGER 2012, will make $500 million available for surface transportation projects having a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or region.

Obama to Detail Housing Refinance Plan
Time – February 1, 2012

Obama on Wednesday was to draw attention to a proposal he outlined in his State of the Union address to allow homeowners with privately held mortgages to take advantage of record low rates, for an annual savings of about $3,000 for the average borrower. Obama was detailing his plan during a visit to a northern Virginia community center.

Chart of the Day: A Nation of Renters
The Atlantic Cities – January 31, 2012

Renting is on the rise – the number of housing units occupied by renters rose by 749,000 in the last quarter of 2011, according to the Commerce Department. According to this graphic, renters have surpassed buyers. Home ownership rates are also falling, at its lowest level since 1998.

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Smart growth news – January 31, 2012

Train in Vain
Slate – January 27, 2012

The idiotic Department of Transportation rule that’s hobbled America’s mass transit—and the wonderful regulation that may soon replace it.

What Pictures Can Teach Us About Walkability
The Atlantic Cities – January 30, 2012

I’m not sure there is any one word that describes my concept of a sustainable community place more than walkability. At least when it comes to describing the physical aspects of a place. Is it safe, comfortable, and enjoyable to walk in? Does it have an abundance of places to walk to and from? Is it human-scaled? If the answer is yes, chances are that it also has many of the characteristics that smart growth and urbanist planners strive to achieve: density, mixed uses, connectivity, appropriate traffic management, street frontages, opportunity for physical activity, and so on.

House Republicans to unveil transportation bill
Washington Post – January 30, 2012

Spreading about $260 billion over a five-year span, the House proposal would continue to fund transportation programs at close to current levels.

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Anderson: Address the Housing Crisis’s Underlying Issues

The following op-ed was crossposted from Roll Call.

President Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke seem enamored with renting foreclosed properties to blunt price decreases and to stir economic recovery, but that’s a bandage for symptoms as opposed to a real cure.

Instead, we need to learn from the problems that landed us in this mess in the first place, working to bring government policies in line with good business sense and to incentivize market-driven development.

Or, in the words of investor Warren Buffett, “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”

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Smart growth news – January 10, 2012

White House wants to convert foreclosed houses to rentals
MSNCBC – January 9, 2012

The Obama administration, in conjunction with federal regulators and led by the overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are very close to announcing a pilot program to sell government-owned foreclosures in bulk to investors as rentals, according to administration officials.

Factbox: Fed doves look to spur housing, hawks balk
Reuters – January 9, 2012

Federal Reserve officials are divided over the need for more accommodation to ensure the economic recovery gains enough velocity to pull free from its stop and start slog, despite rock-bottom interest rates for more than three years and $2.3 trillion in bond purchases designed to stimulate growth.

The Fed’s Housing Politics
Wall Street Journal – January 10, 2012

These columns have defended the independence of the Federal Reserve from attacks on the right and left, but after last week the central bank is on its own. It’s impossible to defend the Fed’s rank electioneering as it lobbies for more political and taxpayer intervention in the housing market—just in time for the election campaign.

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Smart growth news – January 6, 2012

Ben Bernanke’s Solution To The Housing Crisis: Renting Foreclosed Homes

Huffington Post – January 5, 2012
While millions of foreclosed homes languish on the market at lower and lower prices, new data supports the idea that renting out these foreclosed homes could be the long-sought solution to the housing crisis. Rental units are leasing quickly, and the vacancy rate for apartments is at its lowest level in a decade, according to data released Thursday. In many areas, rents are rising.

Washington Wades Deeper into Housing
BusinessWeek – January 5, 2012

Lawmakers began 2011 with sweeping ambitions to shrink the U.S. government’s involvement in mortgage finance. They ended the year enacting policies that increase it. An 11th-hour extension of the payroll tax cut, signed into law on Dec. 23, will for the first time divert funds from Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), the two mortgage finance companies under U.S. conservatorship, to pay for general government expenses. Congress also took steps that are likely to increase the role of the Federal Housing Administration in the market—at the same time that the agency’s reserves hit a record low. And some economists are charging that the FHA’s finances are even worse than they appear.

Conservative Pols Hate Government Subsidies, Unless They Subsidize Sprawl
DC Streets – January 5, 2012

For a place that’s on the forefront of a heavily-subsidized brand of taxpayer-funded suburban sprawl, Celina is steeped in the kind of conservative politics that generally eschews government subsidies.

Schumer: ‘I’m going to lead fight’ on commuter tax break
The Hill – January 6, 2012

Schumer suggested that Thursday that lawmakers should use a package of pending tax breaks to extend a provision from the 2009 economic stimulus package that allowed public transit users to set aside $230 per month before taxes for commuting expenses. Because Congress has not yet extended the provision, which expired on Jan. 1, the limit was reduced to $125 at the beginning of the new year.

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Smart growth news – January 5, 2012

Federal HUD grant drives development in East Austin
YNN (Texas) – January 4, 2012
A large plot of land in East Austin will soon be developed into a mixed-income, sustainable community, thanks to a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Fed Urges Action on Housing
Wall Street Journal – January 5, 2012
The paper said some 60 metro areas had at least 250 foreclosed properties for sale by Fannie, Freddie and federal agencies—enough to efficiently execute rental programs. About two-fifths of properties held by Fannie could produce returns that justify converting them, it said.

Why Some Cities Are Healthier Than Others
The Atlantic Cities – January 5, 2012
Metro health is closely associated with commuting patterns. Metros where greater shares of people walk and bike to work do better on the Metro Health Index (.62). Conversely, the share of people who drive to work alone is negatively associated with the Metro Health Index (-.47).

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