Six Steps for Housing 2025


The evolution of Federal Housing Policy: The 5 legged stool: Public Housing, Private subsidized housing. Housing Vouchers. Homeowner assistance. Housing production.

"Why Fewer American Children are living in poverty." This NYT podcast outlines a myriad of ways in which enlightened and accidental anti-poverty programs have made a dramatic difference in the lives of poor families. The one missing piece? Universal Housing Vouchers. Rental housing is the last "free market" commodity. The FIRED industry needs regulation, not just more money, if housing is to become affordable.

Housing Oligarchs need tax dollars! 11/05/2022. Politico. The Fed crashed the housing market. Builders and banks want help. The housing slump is the economy’s biggest casualty so far from a series of Federal Reserve rate hikes designed to tame inflation. Lobbyists are scrambling to get help from Washington to goose the housing market as demand tanks in response to rising interest rates and high prices. Groups representing builders, realtors and lenders are urging Congress and the White House to intervene to spur more home construction and boost affordability. It’s an increasingly urgent plea, with mortgage demand down more than 40 percent from a year ago and rates topping 7 percent for the first time in two decades. This story proves that the dead horse is out of the barn (mixed metaphor intended)! RHINO wonders if subsidizing developers to build more housing makes sense at this point. Without rental subsidies, tenants will still be stuck in unaffordable leases and developers will sell to middle class and investor homebuyers who will benefit from declining mortgage rates. The housing finance system. The Fed's monetary policy is a dull blade that undercuts everyone. FHFA has sharper blades to prevent rent and price inflation. For a more balanced perspective check out Addressing the Affordable Housing Crisis Requires Expanding Rental Assistance and Adding Housing Units

March 15, 2021. Shelterforce. Did the Comprehensive Community Initiatives of the 1990s, early 2000s Bring About Change? "Once a must-have for foundations, Comprehensive Community Initiatives found mixed success.

Six transformative housing policies for 2025

After high hopes for a progressive Congress were washed up on the beach of Lake SineManchin, housing advocates shifted to tinkering with the current housing issues. For those who have lived thru periods of policy stagnation under Presidents Clinton ("school uniforms") and Obama ("the beer summit"), the prospect of another round of "small ball policies seems unproductive. In the arena of "affordable housing," Biden's latest policy statement hands the keys to the same crowd that masterminded the last two housing crises in 2008 and 2020: the Federal Reserve, Fannie and Freddie, and the homebuilders.

Having missed the opportunity presented by the Pandemic Recession, housing advocates' next bite at the housing policy apple won't come until 2025, the year after the next presidential election. To make progress in 2025, advocates need to begin now to lay the foundations for transformative changes in Federal housing policy.

  1. Universal Housing Vouchers-simple to explain, easy to implement, some changes needed but, UHV can transform the chaos of the current Federal housing policies and they can be a lynch pin for other housing policy innovations.

  2. Green New Deal for Public Housing-count me among the skeptics, but times change. Historically public (social) housing became a haven for African American households and quickly became stigmatized, paternalistic, and suffered from disinvestment. GNDPH can shake off that stigma by being the basis for 21st century energy programs.

  3. New Homeownership Models

  • End of the American Dream?

  • Tenant Opportunity to Purchase

  • Just cause (no cut) lease provisions

  • DECEMBER 20, 2022. NextCity. This Community-Controlled Real Estate Co-Op Is Proving Its Value. "Investors who took a chance on a unique Bay Area-real estate cooperative are now receiving their first dividend checks. They may be small, but they carry an important message. [...] The East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, or EB PREC for short, is one of a few newer community-controlled or community-owned real estate entities that have emerged over the past few years. They vary widely in legal and governance structures, as well as locations and community demographics. Next City has reported on a few of them recently, like the E.G. Woode small business real estate collective on the South Side of Chicago, or Philadelphia’s Kensington Corridor Trust, Seattle’s Cultural Space Agency, or the Commongrounds Cooperative in Traverse City, Michigan."

  1. Local initiatives.

  • January 2, 2023. Next City. The 22 Best Solutions of 2022, "Our editors selected our top stories of urban innovation to feature in our annual Solutions of the Year roundup."

  1. Local Funding Sources based on bond financing, not tax abatements. Easing Zoning restrictions. What Federal policies can support local initiatives

  • Jul 15, 2022, MarketPlace. The U.S. housing shortage has doubled in less than a decade, report finds

  • What Does It Take to Get ADUs Built?

  • SEPTEMBER 22, 2022, Next City, Housing In Brief: A Colorado Ballot Initiative Could Change How Affordable Housing Is Funded. "This November, Colorado residents will vote on a ballot referendum that would direct a small portion of state income tax to new affordable housing, The Journal Record reports. Proposition 123 would set aside 0.1% of the state’s income tax revenue to local governments with the goal of increasing affordable housing stock by 3% in each jurisdiction. It would also go to programs to help teachers, nurses and other workers secure their first home and fund eviction defense and rent supplements, The Denver Post reports. The campaign estimates the proposition would set aside $300 million a year and could lead to 170,000 new units over 20 years. That falls short of current needs – according to census data, the state had a deficit of 93,000 to 216,000 units in 2020 - but it could establish a model for funding housing going forward."

  • OCTOBER 6, 2022. NextCity. A Pennsylvania Program Will Provide Free Repairs – So Long As Landlords Don’t Hike Rents. "In July, Pennsylvania’s legislature passed a law that could revitalize deteriorating homes across the state. The Whole Home Repair Act sets aside $125 million for grants to low and middle-income homeowners and forgivable loans for small landlords to repair or retrofit homes, along with money for staff and workforce development for three years."

  • August 29, 2022. WVXU, Cincinnati's Affordable Housing Trust Fund is ready for use four years after being established.

  • September 6, 2022. WOSU. Voters to decide on $1.5 billion bond issue that includes money to expand affordable housing. "The City of Columbus is proposing a $1.5 billion bond issue on the November ballot that includes $200 million to expand affordable housing. It is four times more than what the city proposed in 2019. Supporters and developers said it’s a crucial step to address the demand for affordable housing. But more work needs to get done to make it happen. Two years ago, the city borrowed a lot of money to build more than 1,300 affordable housing units. At the time, before the COVI-19 pandemic, more than 50,000 people were using half their income to pay rent or make mortgage payments. Officials have said the $50 million is not enough. But they say it was a good test run."

  • November 8, 2022. Columbus Dispatch. Columbus voters approve affordable housing, other bonds

  • October 20, 2022. WVXU. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is about to get another $5M. But how affordable will that housing be?

  • January 10, 2023. WESA. Gainey administration plans a massive investment in Pittsburgh affordable housing "The City of Pittsburgh annually invests $10 million in affordable housing, but Mayor Ed Gainey has long promised to do more. His administration will soon embark on an ambitious plan to raise millions of dollars, said Jake Pawlak, deputy mayor and the director of the city’s Office of Management and Budget. [...] The key to the new plan is buried on page 30 of the 2023 operating budget: an annual $2.5 million “transfer for housing issuance.” That allocation will allow the city and the Urban Redevelopment Authority to issue a bond whose proceeds will be used to make significant investments in affordable housing in the near term, and pay it back over the next 30 years."

  1. Local energy regulations

  • Ending the fossil fuel housing economy--electricity is the fuel of the future for housing.

  • Building on opportunities created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

  • A green new home

  • 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 25, 2022. NextCity. It’s Time to Electrify Philly’s Buildings. "Op-ed: Building electrification incentives in Philadelphia would protect our planet and our residents' health." More here.

  • Sunnova Submits Application to Develop First-of-its-Kind Solar "Micro-Utility" in California

  • Effects Of Residential Gas Appliances On Indoor And Outdoor Air Quality And Public Health In California

  • Center For Occupational & Environmental Health > Effects Of Residential Gas Appliances On Indoor And Outdoor Air Quality And Public Health In California

  • November 9, 2022. CityLab. At COP27, Building Emissions Loom Larger. "Cleaning up the carbon-intensive construction industry and reducing energy consumption in buildings have emerged as major topics at the UN climate summit. [...] The built environment has always played a major role in the climate crisis — a much-shared stat suggests that roughly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to constructing and maintaining buildings. But the building sector hasn’t commanded a commensurate amount of attention at international climate conclaves."

  • January 4, 2023. Shelterforce. The Shift to Using More Electricity Will Change How Affordable Housing Is Built. "The recently passed federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) accelerates the shift by providing resources to address increased costs and technical challenges. The IRA, for instance, contains billions of dollars in subsidies to address climate change, and the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative earmarks 40 percent of these resources to traditionally underserved communities and affordable housing. (As much as $25 billion is allocated to affordable housing and low- and moderate-income communities, to be administered through HUD, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a recent policy brief by the National Housing Trust.)" Good news!

  1. New Federal Housing Finance System

Then, we'll look at ways that advocates, activists and organizers can mobilize today's anger/frustration/guilt into a 2025 strategy that starts now where people live (morally and geographically).

The FIRED industry has control of the media and a 100 year headstart, so change agents need to begin now, before the next opportunity for transformative change slips past us.

We're changing! Demographically, geographically, emotionally. What tactics are necessary to meet the populous in 2025?

  • Stop fighting last year's wars; stop patching broken systems

  • Will we need a crisis to "unfreeze" change space?

  • The power of movements to make change. Movements aren't coalitions, think networks.

  • Roles of advocates, activists, and organizers

  • Give away short term victories to build more equity

  • Who is that mysterious madman?

You can help by sharing your comments, questions and suggestions.