Fair Housing News 6-25-10

HUD Steps Up in Texas – After 2008 Hurricanes Ike & Dolly, the federal government provided restoration funds to the Texas coast, but instead of directing those funds to the most damaged areas and those with the fewest resources to address their needs, Texas’ plan was to spread the money around the state and gave the local governments broad authority on how the funds would be spent. Two affordable housing groups protested, and HUD rejected the state’s plan, and forced the state to negotiate an equitable agreement with two advocacy groups.

In New Berlin, Wisconsin, low income housing tax credit developments have recently faced strong oppostion from condo owners and single-family homes, who use the oft-heralded (but seldom proven) claims that the apartments will hurt their property values and bring crime. The apartment complex did receive its LIHTC funding commitment, although the city planning commission has rescinded a parking waiver it had previously granted. And in Kenosha, WI, two LIHTC projects are facing intense opposition from neighborhood residents. It’s always fun to read the comments below the articles.

Charlotte, South Carolina has faced intense pressure lately as the city has attempted to disperse low-income housing, with multiple locations being shot down by homeowner opposition. But the affordable housing advocates in Charlotte continue to look for acceptable sites.

And in Dallas, an attempt to place homeless housing units in an existing apartment complex has resulted in a bitter contest with homeowners and many city council and neighborhood meetings, and a local housing watchdog is closely monitoring the situation after the decision was delayed. Stories 1 2 3 4 5 6 In the midst of this, the Dallas Housing Authority plans to use 160 homes for the homeless and formerly incarcerated. A HUD complaint was filed last week over siting for chronically homeless housing in the Knoxville, Tennessee area.

In Grapevine, a Dallas suburb, city planners proposed a mixed-use zoning district around a future transit stop, only to have the mayor state “To even consider this is the biggest shock I’ve had … as mayor. We need to keep multifamily out or abandon the historic district.” Query — apartments = density = transit ridership … so how does it make sense to promote a TOD mixed-zoning district without apartments? To say nothing of transit-equity issues and the need in particular for affordable housing near transit to reduce the huge housing+transportation burdens of lower income families.

In Orchard Park, New York, a local non-profit proposed to build an apartment building for lower income senior citizens, and the city denied their rezoning, after asking to see rosters of the zip codes of the residents of an existing seniors’ low income development. The zoning denial was ostensibly based on concerns of providing services, and the loss of industrial land.

And the town of Freemont, Nebraska has passed a law making it illegal to hire or rent property to illegal immigrants. They should Google “Farmers Branch, Texas” on this issue (they have spent $2 million dollars trying to uphold their anti-immigration measures). Federal judges have struck down both attempts by that city.


About Bob Voelker

Vice President and General Counsel, StreetLights Residential - Building Places that Life the Human Spirit.
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