Tag: Housing

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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LOCUS steering committee members honored at ULI Terwillinger Center Awards Gala

The Urban Land Institute’s Terwillinger Center for Workforce Housing held its annual awards gala in September to recognize communities, real estate developers and policymakers in promoting workforce housing affordability. The Jonathan Rose Companies, led by LOCUS steering committee member Jonathan Rose, received the Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Model of Excellence award for their Tapestry development in East Harlem, New York. The award is given in honor of former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp in recognition of four developers who have used innovative financing and design strategies to build developments and offers units at both market rate and below-market rate for residents.

LOCUS Steering Committee member Eric Larson also attended the event to present the Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Award, which recognizes the commitment of a state or local government that is dedicated to the production, rehabilitation and preservation of workforce housing. New this year, the award is named in memory of Larson’s father, Bob Larson, a leading real estate developer and investor chair of the Resolution Trust Corporation and former ULI chairman. This year’s award recipient is the city of San Jose.

“My father believed that a keen sense of community would emerge when dedicated, smart people do the right thing. And public policy, with strong leadership, is key to the lasting quality of a community,” Larson said. “We are thrilled that San Jose is the first recipient of this award bearing my father’s name.”

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Smart growth news – October 13

Trending: Hard times for small cities

Pennsylvania state capital declares bankruptcy
AFP, October 12, 2011
Pennsylvania’s state capital Harrisburg has declared bankruptcy, according to a court filing seen Wednesday, a rare move that raised the specter of a string of local government defaults.

A City Forced to Turn Out the Lights
Atlantic Cities, October 12, 2011
As cities face continued fiscal troubles, this isn’t the last we’re likely to see of this sort of drastic cost-cutting: the dark financial straits cities face mirrored by their darkened streets.

National news

White House plan for infrastructure bank ‘dead on arrival’
The Hill, October 12, 2011
President Obama’s national infrastructure bank is dead on arrival, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee said Wednesday. At a hearing ostensibly held to discuss the merits of the bank, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) ridiculed the proposal as something that would cost more jobs than it would create.

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Living may actually be cheaper in the region’s core

Originally written by David Alpert and posted on Greater Greater Washington
August 3, 2011

The classic rule of thumb, “drive ’till you qualify,” holds that the farther you go from a city center, the cheaper the cost of living. But a new report shows how in the DC area, housing near the core and near transit stations can be cheaper when transportation costs are factored in.

The Office of Planning worked with the Center for Neighborhood Technology to customize their “H+T” housing and transportation index for our region, and to incorporate more recent American Community Survey data as well as Census data.

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