RHINO is the Rental Housing Information Network in Ohio

Today in Ohio history

August 10, 1956 -- Cleveland Browns beat the College All-Stars 26-0 in the 23rd NFL Chicago All-Star Game.rr

This week's rental housing news

  • July 19, 2022. WVXU.
    A judge says Cincinnati's pay-to-stay ordinance is enforceable. Will magistrates listen? "A Hamilton County judge says Cincinnati’s pay-to-stay ordinance should be enforced, but that doesn’t necessarily mean magistrates will start enforcing it after refusing for seven months. Cincinnati Council passed pay-to-stay last year. It’s supposed to force a landlord to stop a nonpayment eviction if the tenant can pay all past due rent and fees. Hamilton County magistrates announced their decision not to enforce it on the day it went into effect in December, saying they think the local ordinance conflicts with state law. It was an unusual move, considering there was no legal challenge to the law; nor is there one now. Legal Aid challenged that decision in one particular eviction case, where the tenant has a voucher from the Community Action Agency for rent assistance from federal stimulus funds."

  • July 22, 2022. WVXU. More than 1,000 in Indianapolis may lose water — or even their homes — because a landlord didn't pay. "In April, Indianapolis leaders and legal representatives announced a set of coordinated lawsuits against a delinquent landlord, JPC Affordable Housing Foundation, which has failed to pay $1.7 million in water bills at four apartment complexes. The utility company now says it plans to shut off service Sept. 30 if an agreement can't be reached. Tenants of 1,400 rental units in Indianapolis are on the brink of a water shut-off due to nonpayment by their corporate landlord — a tenant-landlord dispute of such a scale that city and state officials have stepped in with legal action to head off the possibility of a mass eviction. With an unpaid water bill of $1.7 million and counting, an Indianapolis utility company this week posted notices to residents of four apartment complexes owned by the nonprofit JPC Affordable Housing Foundation, warning that their water could be shut off in September."

  • JULY 21, 2022. NextCity. Inside Chicago’s Effort to Protect Tenants’ Right to Cool Air "Winter heating laws have long been commonplace. With temperatures rising, new cooling rules aim to protect residents from dangerous summer heat."

  • July 22, 2022. CityLab. At Philadelphia Eviction Court, Showing Up on Time Is Half the Battle
    "Tenants who live farther from the courthouse are more likely to be served with default judgments and lose their homes, according to new research."
    Something to be said for video hearings? At least as an option...

  • July 21, 2022. Columbus Dispatch. Worthington council may consider 'Pay to Stay' ordinance to help tenants facing eviction. "Worthington could become one of a handful of Ohio cities to adopt an ordinance that allows housing tenants facing eviction a window to repay late rent and remain in their homes. City Council has directed city staff to begin putting together an ordinance, known as 'Pay to Stay,' for council’s consideration, according to council member Bonnie Michael. Thanks MarcusR

  • July 19, 2022. Shelterforce.Tenant Screening Companies Profit from Eviction Records, Driving Housing Insecurity. "Sealing eviction records at the point of filing is an urgent step toward dismantling harmful tenant screening practices."

  • July 14, 2022. Journal News via YahooNews. Legal Aid Society: Anthony Wayne building residents forgotten in hotel project. "A developer has plans to turn the Anthony Wayne Apartments on South Monument Street into a 54-room boutique hotel. If the sale goes through, construction on the hotel could start in early 2023 and take a year to complete. Residents have been notified of the project and given six months' notice to vacate." Thanks Marcus again!

A Green New Deal for Public Housing -- rhinoUp for July 17, 2022

Public housing was the Federal government's first effort to create a national housing policy. The FDR New Deal adapted public housing from Great Britain's Social Housing in the midst of the Depression when, as FDR proclaimed: "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished."

In 2019, the Green New Deal for Public Housing (GND4PH) was proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders to address three goals: save FDR's social housing experiment, address the 21st century's climate crisis, and provide safe shelter and employment opportunities to the lowest income tenants in the US. Here's the concept. "Safe housing. Clean housing. Green housing. Homes without toxic mold that causes asthma, homes without lead paint, homes without broken appliances or uncontrollable heating. We envision public housing that’s good for tenants, sustainable for the planet, and creates quality jobs." The ten year estimated cost for the program would be a whopping $180B to modernize and decarbonize 1,000,000 of existing public housing. Funding for the GND4PH would have come from the Biden "Build Back Better" reconciliation bill.

Good idea, bad timing! Within six months of the introduction of GND4PH, the CoronaCrisis triggered a series of housing retrograde interventions (emergency rental assistance and eviction moratoriums) which were designed to stop an impending eviction crisis. Then the Sinemanchin caucus in the Senate broke the back of a massive Reconciliation bill that could finance the plan. Kriston Capps in CityLab provides a good analysis of the barriers facing GND4PH.

So where from here?

1. Because Public housing is socialism, ie. government owned housing, when FDR created public housing, he set up a system of locally governed "housing authorities" to soften the image of a "big government" takeover of the housing market. Now these entrenched PHAs (and their vendors and their unions) will need to be in the planning, not just think-tankers and the Sunrise Movement.

2. Public housing is socialism, so framing GND4PH as an "infrastructure investment" rather than a housing benefit could reduce the ideological lift for moderates of both parties. There will need to be elements of the plan that benefit the realtors, investors, and developers, which is currently the largest lobbying groups in the country.

3. GND4PH is too big. Outside of a national catastrophe, like the Great Depression, Congress works by what Charles Lindbloom called "muddling through." Every real innovation requires a generation to concoct, refine, and finally accept. However, HUD's Mark to Market (M2M) and Rental Assistance Demonstration programs stand out as exceptions. Each had the reputation for being "jetliners built in flight," ie. each deal was unique, but the lessons learned were looped back into the program to make each deal more successful.

4. GND4PH is too costly. Between now and 2025, it's unlikely that Congress will find the $180B-$1T estimated cost of a 10 year program. Shorter workarounds will be required, eg. capital investments that look like annual appropriations.

Enacting Universal Housing Vouchers (UHVs) can pave the way to GND4PH by encouraging PHAs to operate like private sector landlords. Before you scream, read on. The social mission of social housing will be preserved by capital improvements that improve safety, reduce operating expenses, and create jobs...rather than simply providing social-worky resident services.

Then, HUD could redesign the existing capital grant program to incorporate GND4PH goals that will create the rental units and communities of the future. Slowly, stodgy "brick cities" could become the market standard for rental housing efficiency, resilience, and amenities. With the capital provided by HUD, PHAs could become a test bed for alternative energy generation, non-carbon HVAC systems, energy conservation, modular development, and microgrid technologies.

Two synergies will ensue as public housing meets the GND4PH goals of "Safe housing. Clean housing. Green housing."

  • PHAs can also become technological hubs for community solar projects, e-charging stations, and maker labs for the benefit of surrounding low income communities, providing spaces for innovators

Private developers will benefit too. Using Federal funding as venture capital investors new technologies, for profit reduced the "risk" of private sector who don't want to be early adopters.

Read more about the Six Policies project.