Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

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EOst
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby EOst » May 19th, 2017, 8:41 pm

That's helpful to hear.

alleycat
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby alleycat » May 19th, 2017, 11:42 pm

In Jordan we have generally been very supportive of affordable housing. A few reasons I championed affordable MFH. First, they bring much needed development to an area that needs a boost and otherwise would get little to no infill. Second, most of these projects are capped at 40% or 60% AMI. Residents can be above or grow their incomes to above neighborhood median income. Third, they bring quality housing to residents who often deal with horrendous housing conditions, slumlords or a combination of both. Jordan did push the city to do a 50/50 split between market rate and sunsidized units along the curve on West Broadway.

The added benefit is that pressure is relieved on the SFH housing stock, which is often great despite the bad apples I mentioned above. Returning or preserving affordable SFH ownership opportunities is extremely important to the viability of the Northside. There needs to be a more concerted effort to get qualified residents with appropriate income into ownership.
Scottie B. Tuska
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LakeCharles
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby LakeCharles » May 20th, 2017, 8:03 am

David Greene wrote:
May 19th, 2017, 4:45 pm
FWIW, Harrison and other Near North communities have pushed for market-rate housing in the past while also keeping an eye on gentrification. So it's not an either-or. Communities like Harrison understand the critical importance of co-locating affordable housing and good transit access.
I'm speaking from a place of ignorance, so forgive me, but it seems that Harrison already has a decent mix of housing. My sister lives there and walking around it seems there are very expensive SFH mixed with less expensive MFH and industrial.

David Greene
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby David Greene » May 20th, 2017, 9:39 am

The particular project I'm thinking of (connected to Penn Ave. I think) wasn't actually in Harrison, but I've talked to people there who basically have the view I conveyed*. I don't think I've ever seen a house in Harrison that I'd consider "very expensive" but I've never priced them out. I don't claim to have walked the whole neighborhood either.

* This was years ago and the "project" was more a conceptual study than any concrete development.

gobezlij
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby gobezlij » May 20th, 2017, 12:14 pm

EOst wrote:
May 19th, 2017, 1:29 pm
Question for anyone.

What's your current thinking about new affordable housing (i.e. restricted by AMI) within existing areas of concentrated poverty? Particularly in areas of particularly deep poverty, where the average median income is already less than 30% of AMI? Is this just further concentrating poverty? Should neighbors/city officials/etc. push for more market rate units? Or is the affordable housing so necessary from a citywide perspective that local considerations are less important?
Related article from November, discussing Seward Commons area near Franklin Blue Line Station. https://www.minnpost.com/cityscape/2016 ... ighborhood.

Seward Commons was envisioned to be redeveloped into mixed-income housing. To date, 100+ units of affordable housing have been built in 2 phases; no non-subsidized housing has yet been built. Investors have so far been reluctant to put money into market-rate housing at this site, not confident of the return they can expect in a low-income census track. Financing may be more available for affordable housing in the next phases here, but would that further reduce the possibility of future market-rate housing here and the vision of a mixed-income development?

WHS
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby WHS » May 22nd, 2017, 9:51 pm

EOst wrote:
May 19th, 2017, 1:29 pm
Question for anyone.

What's your current thinking about new affordable housing (i.e. restricted by AMI) within existing areas of concentrated poverty? Particularly in areas of particularly deep poverty, where the average median income is already less than 30% of AMI? Is this just further concentrating poverty? Should neighbors/city officials/etc. push for more market rate units? Or is the affordable housing so necessary from a citywide perspective that local considerations are less important?

I remember this coming up a little when we discussed the Rose Quarter development at Franklin and Portland, where some argued that the development (and the other three corners) just further concentrated poverty in a poor majority-minority neighborhood. I also noticed today (via @mspyimby) that Whittier's plans call for it to reject new affordable housing projects.
Generally a terrible idea. Housing resources are scarce and should be used to provide units in high (or at least higher) opportunity neighborhoods. Increasing the concentration of poverty helps perpetuate disinvestment in these neighborhoods, too. Very often, subsidized housing developed in these areas actually commands above-market rent (which it can do because it offers amenities the existing housing stock does not). That provides (maybe) a small boost to neighborhoods (though it's basically undetectable) but it also severely limits the housing's utility as affordable housing.

Poor neighborhoods should be prioritized for any other form of investment - in schools, businesses, infrastructure, what have you. But affordable housing investment belongs elsewhere.

alleycat
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby alleycat » May 22nd, 2017, 11:37 pm

WHS, your claim that the units are costing more than market rate is not true. For instance, Sherman and Associates upcoming development on the northern side of the West Broadway curve is split between market rate and 60% AMI. The market rate units are going to cost more than affordable units. The market rate units will still be some of the most affordable units available in the metro. Why? Because even when you're building market rate you are building within that submarket.

We've seen three successful 60% AMI buildings built in the last 5+ years near Penn and Broadway. I know of stories about tenants at the Gateway Lofts that have been able to lift themselves up. The buildings replaced major blight (abandoned gas station, tornado ravaged corner, and, in one case, the cities poor planning). You can claim that they are causing some ungodly harm to poor communities, but the reality on the ground is just the opposite. A co-op for and by northsiders is about to open up at Penn and Golden Vally Road. A storm ravaged intersection of Penn and Broadway is a business or two away from rebounding from the recession and a tornado. Your research with Orfield needs to look beyond your narrow view point that affordable housing in and for poor communities is inherently bad.
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EOst
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby EOst » May 23rd, 2017, 9:05 am

Thanks all for the vigorous discussion.

I brought this up specifically because we have a proposal coming up in the North End (east side of Rice St btw Sycamore and Lyton) for 40-50 units, all subsidized. The lot has been empty since 2008; before it was an abandoned auto shop, so it requires remediation that has hindered efforts toward temporary reuse (e.g. gardens). Proposal has no retail or neighborhood amenities, just fills the lot. Across the street is a very poor census tract (average income $16-17k); census tract on the east side of the street is quite a bit higher ($40k) but most of the wealth there is in the northern part.

There's obviously some value in filling empty lots (especially at the gateway to the neighborhood) and the North End rarely gets investment, so it's hard to say "no" here. But I'm not in love with it.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 23rd, 2017, 9:17 am

I think this debate too often has sides talking past each other, and we've certainly gone around the horn on it many times here. I think it's probably true that new subsidized development in areas with a high concentration of below-AMI residents can certainly have positive outcomes, even measurable ones a university might find. New buildings will be more energy efficient (health benefits and monthly cost savings for tenants). Enough residents, even if they're all (or mostly) low-income can be the tipping point to supporting neighborhood retail (that serves neighbors). It can provide social networks for demographic or ethnic groups (particularly for immigrants, as folks here have brought up C-R as an example of a positive). I'm also obviously very supportive of letting people who need transit (or bike/walk infra) to get them to jobs at less cost than a car being able to live in places where those modes are not only there, but the most convenient (ie, if you work at the Abbott campus, living in Phillips makes more sense than Linden Hills even though LH technically still has decent transit access).

But I also think the research is true that long-term, mixed-income neighborhoods often have better outcomes in other measurable ways, most notably schools, but also the economic things WHS has hit on in blog posts and studies (mixed-income neighborhoods supporting more economic activity for all levels of income). And there's the long-game positive social aspects of people living among different income levels, races, etc.

Finally, my perception is that a lot of people who live in the city and care about public policy as it relates to cities (and who happen to be white, myself included) often forget how varied the preferences are of low income people for where/how they'd like to live if given the chance. Anecdotally, many first- and second-gen East African immigrants move to the suburbs to have big lawns and drive cars and have access to good schools. Here's a story of a black woman who loved living in Chaska and wasn't happy about moving back to Minneapolis. That same piece quoted a different Northsider:
“Why don’t you move more rich people to the city?” she said. “You’re saying my kids will be better off if they’re around some of you good people? That’s loaded.”
I'm not trying to paint with a broad brush here. I don't know the percentages. I suspect there are *some* low-income people in North who'd love to live in Linden Hills or Edina. Others might not want that and just want a safe/efficient/new place in North. Others might want to live in Brooklyn Park or Eden Prairie. I think there's a lot of value in pointing out the benefits (societal and to the individual) of integration as WHS and Orfield have done, particularly as it relates to letting that share of low income POC people express their preferences in the metro's suburbs (yes, subsidized) where they've been shut out for decades. And maybe the desires of middle-class white people should matter less from a policy standpoint, but there may be those folks who will start seeing North Minneapolis as desirable in the coming decades (at least, I hope so!) and we'll have to grapple with the benefits of integration against increased property values and possible displacement there.

David Greene
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby David Greene » May 23rd, 2017, 2:02 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:
May 23rd, 2017, 9:17 am
And maybe the desires of middle-class white people should matter less from a policy standpoint, but there may be those folks who will start seeing North Minneapolis as desirable in the coming decades (at least, I hope so!)
I think that is quite likely. Housing is super cheap up there and anyone who wants a good, solid house (needing some work) and doesn't necessarily expect a huge ROI has to be looking there and thinking about it, given the inflated prices in many other parts of the city. I feel like there's been a lot of under-the-radar investment there (new park equipment, bike infrastructure, etc.) and we're now seeing some development along West Broadway. I would not be surprised at all if Bottineau LRT proves to be a tipping point, at least for Near North. Transit service is still a bit sparse in North.

If I wasn't living in such a great place right now that's where I'd be looking and even then I've thought about making the move if the right house comes on the market and family agrees.

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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby amiller92 » May 23rd, 2017, 2:28 pm

I think there's a broader point there too. The dreaded G word (to the extent that it's a thing) is coming toward some of these areas, and perhaps not all that far in the future. Building affordable housing there now may look like concentrating poverty, but it might not in five or ten years for areas that (1) are not that far or separated by physical barriers from more affluent areas, and (2) are well served by transit.

Of course, you have to be able to predict to future.

I don't know St. Paul's North End at all well, but just looking at the map I'm not sure that site would qualify. Meanwhile, the parts of North Minneapolis that will hopefully have light rail in the not so distant future might, as might some the central city neighborhoods that are wedged between downtown and the more affluent southern parts of the city.

David Greene
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby David Greene » May 23rd, 2017, 2:34 pm

amiller92 wrote:
May 23rd, 2017, 2:28 pm
Meanwhile, the parts of North Minneapolis that will hopefully have light rail in the not so distant future might, as might some the central city neighborhoods that are wedged between downtown and the more affluent southern parts of the city.
That's a really good point. I've thought about Midtown LRT as an equity investment, providing job access to those very neighborhoods, but you brought forward the supposition in my mind that it's also likely to be an economic driver, both development and gentrification. Best to plan for it.

David Greene
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby David Greene » May 23rd, 2017, 2:41 pm

amiller92 wrote:
May 23rd, 2017, 2:28 pm
I think there's a broader point there too. The dreaded G word (to the extent that it's a thing) is coming toward some of these areas, and perhaps not all that far in the future. Building affordable housing there now may look like concentrating poverty, but it might not in five or ten years for areas that (1) are not that far or separated by physical barriers from more affluent areas, and (2) are well served by transit.

Of course, you have to be able to predict to future.
You don't even need the future. Old Highland is in full-flung gentrification mode. Lots of (mostly white) people have moved in there in the last two decades, fixed up houses and now some are selling. Where else in North do you find $300k houses? Well, Homewood, but you get the idea.

WHS
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby WHS » May 23rd, 2017, 10:02 pm

alleycat wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 11:37 pm
WHS, your claim that the units are costing more than market rate is not true.
I have data. It's true.
alleycat wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 11:37 pm
Your research with Orfield needs to look beyond your narrow view point that affordable housing in and for poor communities is inherently bad.
I'm concerned with building affordable housing where it's best for poor people. Affordable units might provide stable housing, but the families living there are still attending segregated schools and living in low-opportunity areas where jobs are few and far between. If it turns lives around there, imagine if it was somewhere where occupants had better access to educational and employment opportunity.

Edit: and I want to emphasize, if housing resources were unlimited, the calculus changes - you'd want to provide affordability everywhere. But they're not. So you need to set priorities, and figure out where added affordability will do the most good and build economically sustainable communities.
Last edited by WHS on May 23rd, 2017, 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

WHS
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby WHS » May 23rd, 2017, 10:11 pm

amiller92 wrote:
May 23rd, 2017, 2:28 pm
I think there's a broader point there too. The dreaded G word (to the extent that it's a thing) is coming toward some of these areas, and perhaps not all that far in the future. Building affordable housing there now may look like concentrating poverty, but it might not in five or ten years for areas that (1) are not that far or separated by physical barriers from more affluent areas, and (2) are well served by transit.

Of course, you have to be able to predict to future.

I don't know St. Paul's North End at all well, but just looking at the map I'm not sure that site would qualify. Meanwhile, the parts of North Minneapolis that will hopefully have light rail in the not so distant future might, as might some the central city neighborhoods that are wedged between downtown and the more affluent southern parts of the city.
If we're going to set policy around gentrification, let's set it around actual, observed gentrification, rather than hypothesized, future gentrification. It's vanishingly rare on the ground - in the two central cities, literally twenty times as many people are affected by poverty concentration. Building affordable housing in poor neighborhoods to mitigate gentrification is like installing a sprinkler system in a flood.

WHS
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby WHS » May 23rd, 2017, 10:36 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:
May 23rd, 2017, 9:17 am
many words
Thanks for this, I found it a very thoughtful exploration of the underlying issues, especially about people's preferences. It's very easy - on both sides! - to let the conversation turn into a debate about what to do about three or four neighborhoods, and forget that the very vast majority of low-income families do not even live in those places.

WHS
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby WHS » May 24th, 2017, 12:47 pm

alleycat wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 11:37 pm
WHS, your claim that the units are costing more than market rate is not true.
I decided that since this is a major shortcoming in housing policy that's not commonly understood, I should write up my response in a more robust way: http://blog.opportunity.mn/2017/05/affo ... dable.html

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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby FISHMANPET » May 24th, 2017, 12:59 pm

Any idea what the root cause of that? Are the "AMI" statistics from a much broader area than the actual neighborhood?

I guess for that matter what's the "area" for an Area Median Income?

WHS
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby WHS » May 24th, 2017, 1:23 pm

Two factors:

-AMI is regional, meaning that keying maximum rents to AMI does basically nothing in very poor neighborhoods.

-There's still the problem of getting anyone to actually pay a high rent for an apartment in a poor neighborhood, but that dissipates if most of your tenants are Section 8 voucherholders. Voucherholders have very few options to begin with, and there is no incentive to price-shop anyway: anything between their minimum contribution and their maximum allowable rent will be paid by the housing authority. So if you're a landlord and you expect most of your tenants to be Section 8, may as well pump up those rents.

schmitzm03
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Re: Subsidized and/or Affordable Housing

Postby schmitzm03 » May 25th, 2017, 7:21 am

Great article by Richard Reeves at Brookings on the impact of exclusionary zoning on inequality. I know many here are already deeply familiar with these ideas, but the piece is a very succinct and cogent synthesis that could help the uninitiated understand why fighting development or up-zoning sometimes (often?) actually enables gentrification. https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/excl ... cialpolicy


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