November 6, 2018

Housing Affordability in the 2018 Midterm Elections

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

  • An article in The Wall Street Journal argues that while renters are typically less engaged politically, the scarcity of affordable rental housing across the nation could motivate more renters to vote this election cycle. It points out that the affordable housing challenge has become a hot political topic in several city and state races, noting that this year there are several ballot measures that aim to preserve and spur the development of affordable rental housing. (WSJ, November 5) The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline midterm election coverage notes that today voters in eight states will consider housing measures that would create more housing or enact new protections for tenants. Californians will vote on two ballot measures that would create affordable housing opportunities across the state, and voters in Portland, Oregon, will vote on two measures that would allow local governments to use bond funds in partnerships with private business and nonprofits to build affordable housing as well as generate funds to build affordable housing. Voters in Telluride, Colorado, will have the opportunity to approve two ballot measures that would increase levies on property and sales taxes to fund and finance affordable housing, and Austin’s voters will decide whether to allocate $200 million to $300 million for affordable rental housing, homeownership programs, home repairs and land acquisition. In Charlotte, North Carolina, voters will vote on a measure that would increase the city’s affordable housing trust fund from $15 million to $50 million, and in Flagstaff, Arizona, voters will get the chance to allow the City Council to fund $25 million in general obligation bonds to finance affordable housing. 
  • Enterprise and Designing the WE last week launched the Undesign the Redline New Orleans exhibit at the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design. Enterprise’s Vice President and the Gulf Coast Market Leader Michelle Whetten notes that “Undesign the Redline is a powerful way to engage with history, to examine how racist policies from decades ago still impact our communities today and to inspire action toward creating communities of equal opportunity that promote health, resilience, and well-being for all.” (Curbed New Orleans, November 5) This interactive exhibit, which has already visited Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbia, Maryland, New York City, and Washington, D.C., uses powerful narratives of people and communities, maps and other documentation – all tailored to the city where the exhibit is appearing – to highlight how “redlining” created segregation and disinvestment in communities that continue to persist to this day. In New Orleans, Undesign the Redline will run through February 2019. It next opens in Denver on November 15.
  • A new study suggests that people of color, especially Native Americans, are at higher risk of wildfires than whites. The paper, which analyzes over 70,000 census tracts across the country, finds that people with the greatest vulnerability to wildfires are disproportionately people of color. The study points out that low-income communities and people of color are more likely to be hit hardest by disasters, because they are more likely to live in areas with greater exposure to hazards, less likely to live in structures resilient to hazards, and less likely to have adequate resources to prepare for disasters. It also notes that factors like owning a car and speaking fluent English can decrease vulnerability to disasters. (The New York Times, November 3)
  • Bloomberg notes that various states and local governments across the country are asking their voters to approve ballot measures that would fund or finance environmental projects, including those aimed at protecting against the impact of rising global temperatures. Californians will vote on $8.9 billion of bonds for water projects, Austin’s voters will vote on the authorization of bonds for flood mitigation and water quality, and voters in San Francisco will weigh on authorizing $425 million in bonds for upgrades to the Embarcadero seawall. In Miami Beach, which has witnessed frequent flooding prompted by high tides, voters will have the opportunity to approve a $439 million bond proposal, which would use a fourth of the proceeds to invest in efforts that would help address the effects of climate change, such as environmentally-friendly sidewalks, parks, and neighborhood improvements.
  • CoreLogic has released its Home Price Index (HPI) data for September 2018, which show that home prices are up both year-over-year and month-over-month by 5.6 and 0.4 percent, respectively. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 4.7 percent between September 2018 and September 2019. According to the index, states with the highest year-over-year increases in September were Nevada (12.8 percent) and Idaho (11.9), both experiencing double digit increases. (CoreLogic, November 6)

Upcoming Event

  • On Tuesday, November 27, Enterprise New York, in partnership with the Fair Housing Justice Center and with support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, is hosting the Regional Affordable and Fair Housing Summit. This full-day convening will feature a keynote address by Isabel Wilkerson, the author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, as well as a discussion on the Affordable and Fair Housing Roundtable’s policy platform. The summit will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center. Register here for the summit.     

In Case You Missed It

  • Enterprise has released a paper that looks at the issues around defining and measuring gentrification and their implications for policymaking. Gentrification: Framing Our Perceptions, summarizes several approaches used in recent studies of gentrification and details the complications these create for identifying where it occurs. It describes how different definitions can lead to different findings about the consequences of gentrification, and how these inconsistencies affect policymaking. This paper includes a letter from Enterprise Community Partners’ President Laurel Blatchford, which notes that “this work is a first step in a larger effort by Enterprise’s Policy Development and Research team to better understand gentrification and its implications for policy…Future reports will also review the intersections of gentrification and education policy – specifically, how each impact the other, and with what results.” Watch a short video that offers a summary of the paper, and learn more about this research in our blog post.

The Enterprise Public Policy team thanks you for reading Community Developments and encourages all who are eligible to vote today! 

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