Collection of Reports on Housing
U.S. Housing Market
Two new information sources, plus some excerpts from recent articles on housing.
New ReportThe fourth quarter of 2000 showed signs of both strengthening and weakening, according to the recently released U.S. Housing Market Conditions, 4th Quarter 2000. Housing production increased over the third quarter, sales were mixed (new home sales increased while existing home sales decreased), price movements were mixed (new home prices increased while existing home prices decreased), affordability temporarily improved as a result of declining interest rates, and the homeownership rate decreased slightly from the record set in the third quarter.
The average price of new homes sold during the fourth quarter was $210,200, up 3 percent from the third quarter and 2 percent from the fourth quarter of 1999. The average price of an existing single-family home was $177,800, down 1 percent from the previous quarter but up 6 percent from the third quarter of 1999.
This issue of U.S. Housing Market Conditions contains a newly released update of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Database that includes LIHTC-financed projects placed in service between 1995 and 1998. The LIHTC Database is the only comprehensive source of information on the Federal Government's largest program for the construction and rehabilitation of low-income rental housing. The database is available to the public and will be used by HUD; other Federal, State, and local government agencies; and academic and private-sector researchers.
To download "U.S. Housing Market Conditions, 4th Quarter 2000," visit HUD USER's Web site at: http://www.huduser.org/periodicals/ushmc/winter2000/index.html
Price pinch hits working poor
by Sheba R. WheelerThe number of homeless people in the Denver metro area rose 33 percent in two years, according to a study. The ranks of the homeless include the working poor, said Tracy D'Alanno, manager of Homeless and Special Programs for the Colorado Department of Human Services, which helped compile the results.
"The economy is so good that people are moving here at a higher rate just to find jobs," she said. "A vacancy rate of 2 percent plus a lack of affordable housing is pushing a lot of people out onto the streets.
"The sad thing is that many of them are working and they still can't afford housing," she said. The study, which conducted counts last fall and in 1998, found the number of homeless in the six counties had risen from 5,792 to 7,689, including an increase in children in families from 1,931 to 2,745 and youths who were on their own from 197 to 284.
Sixty-eight percent of the homeless said in the surveys that they had never been homeless before, which officials said runs contrary to the commonly held belief that people cycle in and out of homelessness. Forty percent said they had graduated from high school, while 29 percent had some higher education, including 167 with college degrees, 22 with master's degrees and 10 with doctorates.
"Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice for them," said Ed Powers, president and chairman of the Metropolitan Denver Homeless Initiative, which collaborated with the state on the study.
Ten years ago, 75 percent of the homeless were single individuals. Families with children now make up more than 50 percent of the homeless population. Children in families continue to be one of the fastest-growing categories. The youngest person out on the street on his or her own was 12 years old.
High rents swell the ranks of homeless
by Ralph JimenezWhen the Salvation Army opened an emergency shelter for homeless families in its Concord, Massachusetts church last month, it was filled within weeks.
''All the people here, every one of them I think, had been living in cars,'' captain Robert Kountz said of the residents.
It was nearly 6 on a weeknight but none of the eight families who sought refuge in the building on Clinton Street were home yet. For one mother and father and their four children, home meant six green canvas cots behind curtains in a partitioned former Sunday school classroom.
''They're all either at work or still picking their kids up from the baby sitter,'' Kountz said. ''All of them who come in say `we have money, we have a job, we just don't have a home to go to.'''
Rents unfathomable a few years ago and an apartment vacancy rate that is under 1 percent in many communities have added the working poor, the elderly, the disabled and even some members of the middle class to the ranks of the homeless.
''When you look at the average rent in Concord being $838 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, a person would have to earn something like $16 per hour to afford an apartment like that,'' said Senator Sylvia Larsen of Concord, among several lawmakers filing bills to aid the homeless.
Homeless Shelters in New York Fill to Highest Levels Since 80’s
by NINA BERNSTEINThe number of homeless people lodging nightly in the New York City shelter system this winter has risen above 25,000, the most since the late 1980’s, city figures show, with the largest increases coming among women and children over the last few years.
Officials say no single factor explains the increase in families seeking shelter. Likely explanations include sharply rising housing costs in an economic boom, a subway advertisement campaign that encourages victims of domestic violence to seek help, more court orders for eviction, and declines in subsidized housing, said Martin Oesterreich, the city’s commissioner of homeless services.
“I can’t slam the front door any tighter,” Mr. Oesterreich said, in reference to tough screening procedures started by the Giuliani administration in 1996, resulting in more families being turned away.
Advocates for the homeless say evictions are an important factor. “The emergency assistance unit is a window into what’s happening in the economy over all,” said Steven Banks, counsel to the Coalition to the Homeless and to the Homeless Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society.
For example, he said, landlords have been increasingly successful in obtaining eviction warrants, which were up last year to about 122,000 from 114,000 in 1999, according to the civil court’s latest caseload activity report. The number of evictions actually carried out by marshals is basically unchanged, he said, but families faced with a warrant often choose to leave an apartment before they are thrown on the street.
“Whereas the debate for the last few years has been about work programs,” he said, “what we’re seeing now is that work isn’t enough to keep people out of the shelter system.” The $5.15 per hour minimum wage is not enough to cover rents.
Important ResourceThe Housing Information Gateway at http://www.colorado.edu/plan/housing-info/ has been updated with information for the year 2000. The bibliography now contains over 4,500 references (including 771 on homelessness) as well as links to more than 300 housing-related organizations worldwide. The data can be searched by names, key words, and location. It also contains information on housing-related listservs and upcoming events. Access is free and simple. This resource was made possible by funding provided under the U.S. National and Community Service Trust Act.
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