August 3, 2018

Community Developments: Wildfires Displace Thousands of Families in California

Community Developments

A daily roundup of news impacting housing and communities. Not receiving the Community Developments daily email yet? Sign up here. 

  • Less than a year after California's most destructive wildfire season on record, an article in the New York Times explores how displaced families are coping with this year's string of wildfires. According to the article, the damage in the North California region is so severe that more than 20,000 evacuees have not been allowed to return home, and it is unclear when that time will come. (The New York Times, August 3). In addition, CoreLogic Insights Blog notes that this year's wildfire season is already outpacing last year's, with Cal Fire reporting 3,770 fires as of July 29, compared to 3,440 seen this time in 2017. (CoreLogic, August 2)

  • An op-ed in Next City explains the Lower Income Voucher Equity (LIVE) program, a demonstration program recently approved by the Denver City Council and supported with $1.2 million in public funding that aims to put low-income residents on the path to home-ownership while bolstering economic growth within the city. The demonstration is designed to support individuals making between 40 and 80 percent of the area median income and who are burdened by high rents but unable to qualify for federal housing subsidies. LIVE Denver will work to match severely rent-burdened families with vacant units in the area, capping renter’s monthly cost at 35 percent of their income. The program will also provide financial planning courses, and is partnering with employers like Saint Joseph’s Hospital to provide residents access to employment in growth sectors. (Next City, August 2)
  • According to the Labor Department, the U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in July, and workers’ average earnings rose seven cents month-over-month to $27.05. The year-over-year rate is unchanged at 2.7 percent. The unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.9 percent, but the workforce participation rate—which refers to the number of people who are either employed or are actively looking for jobs—remains unchanged at 62.9 percent. (The New York Times, August 3)

  • New research from the Urban Institute finds that a young adult’s odds of owning a home are highly correlated with their parent’s homeownership status. The analysis reveals that without controlling for various factors, there is a 17 percent gap between the homeownership rate for young adults whose parents are renters (14.4 percent) and those whose parents are homeowners (31.7 percent). The study also shows that the homeownership rate for young adults increases linearly with increases in parental wealth, illustrating that the intergenerational transfer of homeownership and wealth can reinforce and exacerbate existing gaps in prosperity. (Urban Institute, August 2)

  • This week Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility and Equity (HOME) Act, which is designed to promote inclusionary zoning policies and improve housing affordability. The bill directs all jurisdictions receiving grants under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to create strategies that increase the supply of housing and ease zoning restrictions that impede development. The goal is to ensure that at least 20 percent of all new housing units meet affordability requirements. (The American Prospect, August 2)

In Case You Missed It

  • The Enterprise Policy Development & Research team has released a new report that examines how tenure rates – that is, whether people own or rent -- by age, race/ethnicity, and income differ from the national trend over time, resulting in uneven distributions of owners and renters. This report, which draws upon data published today by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), includes a series of interactive graphics that examine tenure shares of specific groups through the late-1990s and early-2000s housing boom, the late-2000s downturn, and the current recovery. Those graphics show that while all subsets of households saw increases in homeownership during the boom, the magnitude of these gains varied. During the subsequent housing downturn, senior, Hispanic, and Asian households managed to retain most of their homeownership gains, while groups such as black and middle-aged households returned to or exceeded their pre-boom shares of renting households. The graphics also highlight that since 2016, with the overall homeownership rate rising again, different groups have followed noticeably different patterns: young, low-income and Hispanic households have the biggest growth in homeownership; rates for high-income and white households remain steady; and senior homeownership rates actually declining. Learn more about the report in an Enterprise blog post

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