February Roundup: Seven Stories in the News

The fate of Lathrop Homes continues to hang in the balance. Image by flickr user Eric Allix Rogers

The fate of Lathrop Homes continues to hang in the balance.  Image by flickr user Eric Allix Rogers cc



Another month and here we are: roundup time. Here are a few stories that caught my eye this month.

1) Fremont wake mourns loss of affordable housing -Rising rents and new developments are pricing out longtime residents of this Seattle neighborhood. To bring attention to their cause, a group of former and current area residents held a wake and eulogized the loss of their homes.

2) Facebook comments: affordable housing -Some people watch reality television, I read the comment section of online news articles (especially ones with a political slant) for my dose of ridiculous people. I was elated, therefore, when the Austin, Texas newspaper Statesman, published a collection of Facebook comments made in regards to a proposed affordable housing development in the city’s Four Points area. The comments they selected are surprisingly balanced, perhaps indicative of wider support for working-class people in Austin (or perhaps indicative of judicious selection by the editor).

3) Ask Adam: Will affordable housing hurt my home’s value? -Following the trend of comments about affordable housing, ARLnow.com’s segment, Ask Adam, erupted in a lively debate earlier this month over the question: “Will the construction of new affordable housing next door affect the value of my building and condo?” Adam says no, citing “million-dollar-plus condo buildings, townhomes and single family homes that exist within a block or two of affordable housing in Arlington,” none of which have experience depreciation due to their proximity to low-income housing. His readers, of course, think otherwise.

4) American Dream?:Affordable housing advocates weigh traditional values, evolving needs -In Corpus Christi, as in many places in this country, the American Dream is a mortgage for a single-family home. Apartment living is deemed inadequate for true happiness and stability. Thus a struggle between the city’s public housing administration and the Corpus Christi Business and Job Corp., which controls the city’s affordable housing funding. The Corp. prioritizes homeownership and is reluctant to help the housing authority fund a huge restoration project that would result in 400 affordable units. Without these units, many Corpus Christi residents will be forced to live in substandard or unaffordable housing. The biggest barrier, in my opinion, is the myth that success comes only with a mortgage and cannot be achieved with an apartment lease. Right now the two sides are in a stalemate. I hope advocates with the housing authority are able to sway the minds of the businessmen in charge of affordable housing.

5) Inside the dramatic restoration at downtown LA’s historic Rosslyn Hotel -In happier news, the Los Angeles non-profit SRO Housing Corporation has finished restoration on the Rosslyn Hotel annex in Downtown LA. The building’s 264 units each have their own kitchenette and bathroom, placing them a step above many single room occupancy units that rely on shared eating or bathing spaces to conserve costs. More than 100 units are reserved for veterans, and rent is capped at 30 percent of a tenant’s income. Because the Rosslyn is on the National Register of Historic Places, each room has been meticulously rehabilitated and comes outfitted with original fixtures and wood. This is a beautiful space and fills a giant need in the middle of LA’s downtown, notorious for its high homeless population.

6) Exploring unsubsidized affordable housing : The McKnight Foundation is researching the gap between market-rate and subsidized affordable housing in Minnesota.  According to this article, there are 182,000 unsubsidized units in the private market affordable to households at or below 50 percent of the area median income. The McKnight Foundation and its housing partners want to harness this resource before it is overtaken by the housing market and affordability is nullified. I will be keeping my eye on this project.

7) A Chicago community puts mixed-income housing to the test: The remaining residents of Lathrop Homes resist the proposed transition from public housing to mixed-income community. The residents maintain that they represent the low- to moderate-income portion of a high-income area; the diversity already exists.


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