The Washington Post explains how Democrats use zoning laws to ban the construction of affordable housing

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:d7S9I53GTskJ:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/democrats-must-figure-out-how-to-address-blue-americas-housing-crisis/2019/06/17/1742bc3a-9115-11e9-b570-6416efdc0803_story.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Democrats must figure out how to address Blue America’s housing crisis

By Charles Lane

June 17, 2019

LOS ANGELES

There’s nothing like people-watching on L.A.’s West Side, where some folks pitch tents in the parks, while others go in and out of $4 million three-bedroom houses — coffee mug in one hand, Maltese in the other — to get you thinking about affordable housing in the United States.

There is much talk of a crisis, based on statistics such as this one, from a 2018 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts: Of the nearly 43 million households who rented their homes in the United States, 7.3 million — 17 percent — spend half or more of their monthly income on rent. Often, their apartments are an hour or two away from where they work.

The situation is worst in booming coastal cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, which means it is mostly a Blue America problem, and that Democrats — both those who run the blue states and those campaigning for president — are under pressure to come up with solutions.

It’s tricky: Democrats are the party of government, but the housing crisis is in large part government-created.

To cut a long story short, blue American cities and counties need new rental housing, but local zoning, building codes, approval processes and other regulations — the whole legal infrastructure that keeps West L.A. neighborhoods neat, green and oh-so-pleasant — hinder construction.

That web of rules has accrued over decades: In 1960, Los Angeles had 2.5 million people and enough zoned real estate to accommodate housing for 10 million. By 2010, population had grown by 60 percent, to 4 million, but authorities had reduced the city’s maximum zoned residential capacity by 57 percent, to 4.3 million.

A study published in February by UCLA researchers found that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of 3.5 million new homes statewide by 2025 cannot be met, because no more than 2.8 million could be built under current zoning laws.

Now consider that the incumbent homeowners who benefit from this arrangement are disproportionately white, upper-income, college-educated social liberals who largely vote Democratic, while the losers are disproportionately working people of color, who also vote Democratic.

A month ago, California’s state Senate shelved a bill to deregulate apartment construction. The sponsor was a Democrat from San Francisco, backed by Newsom. Opponents were progressive groups that said the bill would enrich private developers but not ensure affordability — and Democratic elected officials from such places as Beverly Hills, Palo Alto and West Hollywood.

Among Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has offered the most detailed housing plan and, to her credit, it identifies “the root causes of the problem” as insufficient supply, “and state and local land-use rules that needlessly drive up housing costs.”

She would encourage states and localities to change these rules through a $10 billion grant program that would fund parks, roads or schools in return for land-use reform. It’s like the Obama administration’s “ Race to the Top” education-reform program, but for housing. It also resembles a state-level incentive plan Newsom has already proposed in California.

Then Warren would spend $500 billion over the next decade “to build, preserve and rehab” affordable units on the freed-up land (and elsewhere), paid for by restoring estate taxes repealed by the Republican Congress and President Trump in 2017.

Of course, if Warren really wanted to shake things up, she would fund her plans by eliminating both the mortgage interest deduction, for an estimated savings of $33.9 billion per year, and the exclusion of capital gains on home sales, for another $36.3 billion.

Ending those breaks would raise revenue and reduce huge tax-code subsidies for single-family housing — another “root cause” of America’s distorted residential real estate markets. West Los Angeles, and the rest of America’s suburban upper middle class, wouldn’t like it, though.

Tax changes might even be more efficient, as housing policy reform, than spending a national fund on a shortage that is crippling in some localities but nonexistent in others. Warren would distribute the money through all 50 state governments — guaranteeing that the dollars would not necessarily go where they were most needed.

Warren identifies a real challenge and its real origins. Her proposed solution taxes the ultra-rich — “14,000 of the wealthiest families,” in the words of Warren’s plan — but this populist flourish tends to obscure the much wider role of the suburban upper middle class.

These are the people who would ultimately decide whether local communities accept zoning reform. And recent political events in California suggest that their acceptance would be grudging indeed, even if the federal government sweetened the pot with infrastructure funds per Warren’s plan. Perhaps it’s better to see what that state’s own efforts yield before committing the whole country’s resources.

It is largely in Blue America that the future of the nation’s most sought-after living spaces will be decided, with huge implications for the Democrats, and for the social and economic opportunity the party champions.

The battle will be lost unless and until Blue America’s haves find ways to share more of their neighborhoods with the have-nots.

November 27, 2021. Tags: , . Housing. Leave a comment.

‘Can’t stay anymore’: Residents near new Obama Center fear being pushed out by gentrification

https://www.yahoo.com/news/benefit-were-not-anymore-obama-083016708.html

‘Can’t stay anymore’: Residents near new Obama Center fear being pushed out by gentrification

By Safia Samee Ali

October 19, 2021

CHICAGO — Less than 3 miles from where former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama broke ground last week on their long-awaited presidential center on the South Side of Chicago, Tahiti Hamer lies awake at night thinking about the limited time she and her family have left in the neighborhood where she’s lived her whole life.

Following the announcement of the center in 2015, neighborhoods adjacent to the 19-acre planned site have seen skyrocketing rents and housing prices, and Hamer, 42, a single mother of three, is one of several facing displacement.

Hamer, a teacher at a local YMCA, said she’s tried to buy a home for the last two years, but it’s been out of reach in her neighborhood. She found a house she could afford 12 miles south.

“I do not want to leave. I want to stay, but I’m barely keeping my head above water now,” she said. Hamer’s rent has gone up from $800 to $1,000, and she said her landlord has already told her there’s another $100 hike coming because the area is “coming back up.”

“It’s sad that the place that I’ve lived my whole life I can’t stay in anymore,” she said. “And once I leave, it will be impossible to ever come back. It’s the same story with so many people in this community.”

Despite the Obama Presidential Center being built for the benefit of historically underprivileged communities of color, housing experts say without timely and robust housing protections, it may become a catalyst for displacement, pushing out the residents it intended to help.

The location of the ambitious project was chosen to honor the former first couple’s roots and boasts a library, museum and activity center costing more than $500 million.

Demand has already boomed, with housing costs increasing at a higher rate in areas surrounding the proposed center than citywide since 2016, according to a 2019 study by the University of Illinois Chicago.

Much of the existing community is low-income, with many paying more than they can afford for their monthly housing costs, the study reported, and “eviction rates are some of the highest in the city with South Shore being the highest, averaging 1,800 a year, which is about 9 percent of renters.”

“This very much follows the script of how gentrification works,” said Winifred Curran, a professor of geography and sustainable urban development at DePaul University. “The Obama center is kind of like a signal to developers to get real estate now for cheap, and then the profit potential is huge. That’s what gentrification is, and unless you very specifically do things to keep housing affordable to make property accessible to long-term residents, you’re going to see displacement.”

The battle between residents who live around the site and the city of Chicago has been ongoing for the last six years, but many say they are still waiting for significant aid.

Dixon Romeo, a lifelong South Shore resident and organizer with theObama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition, a resident-based group formed in 2016 to help fight displacement, said residents are not against the Obama center but instead are looking for help, so they will be around to enjoy it.

“How can we benefit from it if we’re not there anymore?” he said. “This is the community that sent President Obama to Springfield. This is the community that sent him to the Senate. This is the community that sent him to the White House, and we should be the community that gets to stay for the presidential center.”

After intense pushback from the coalition, the city passed the Woodlawn Housing Preservation Ordinance last year, which promises to help one neighborhood, which sits directly across from the site, with $4.5 million in affordable housing programs, a requirement that at least 30 percent of new apartments be made affordable to “very low-income households” and a provision that allows renters a “right of first refusal” if their landlord decides to sell the building, among other things.

But Dixon, 27, said residents still haven’t seen any significant changes with the ordinance and that it falls short by not including South Shore and other surrounding neighborhoods that are also feeling financial impacts from the center. He, along with the coalition, is asking the city to implement protections for other neighborhoods.

In a statement to NBC News, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said “since taking office in 2019, the Lightfoot Administration and the newly reformed Department of Housing (DOH) have been committed to working with Woodlawn and all other communities to develop plans for growth that increase opportunity for all and consider the diverse perspectives of everyone. In just two years, the City worked with community stakeholders in Woodlawn, including a 40-member working group of advocates, residents and community organizers, to address displacement and the need for additional affordable housing so that all residents can benefit from the investment that the Obama Presidential Center will bring to the South Side.”

The office also said “DOH is working with Alderwoman Hairston and other stakeholders on several developments and opportunities,” in South Shore.

While more affordable housing is always a good thing, the first step is to make sure people who already have affordable housing don’t lose it, Curran said.

“A lot of times we’re playing a cat-and-mouse gentrification game. Something happens, causes a big spike in rents, people get displaced, and then all of a sudden the city says, ‘Oh, my God, we should have done something with affordable housing,’” she said.

Time is running out. The longer the city drags its feet in providing affordable housing, the more people will be displaced, while gentrification just makes the land more expensive — which means the affordable housing budget will cover fewer units, she said.

“If you’re going to do these things, you have to do them right away because you lose momentum, and at a certain point, what happens is that all the activists who fought for these things get displaced themselves,“ she said. “So they have no one keeping the city accountable for their promises.”

While rent control would be a strong solution to help renters with low income, Illinois prohibits municipalities from passing rent control ordinances under the Rent Control Preemption Act passed in 1997. What they can do is offer property tax breaks to help landlords who already are providing affordable housing, and other subsidies for utilities and bills, she said.

Stacey Sutton, a professor of urban planning and policy and the University of Illinois Chicago, said the issue around the Obama center is not novel for any city, and it’s the same lower-income Black and brown people that disproportionately bear the burden when development takes place largely because class and race are so intertwined.

A 2020 study by Stanford University showed Black residents have more constraints and fewer options of neighborhoods they can move to compared to their white counterparts and that minority communities disproportionately feel the negative effects of gentrification.

“We think of the neighborhoods that we may visit and enjoy, but there’s a full erasure of the history of a lot of those places. Years later, we’ll look back and we won’t remember who lived there, and that’s the erasure,” Sutton said.

“I think the problem with large-scale development, there’s always some downsides, but you try to mitigate the downside. You try to mitigate the adverse effects. And so there are better ways of doing that, and this was not a better way of doing it right,” she said.

Tahiti Hamer is still holding out hope that she’ll be able to stay in the neighborhood that she feels is a part of her, but she knows time is running thin for her.

“I feel like I’m being forced out,” she said. “How can I not afford a home in my own community where I lived for 42 years? It’s unreal and just so unfair.”

October 19, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . Barack Obama, Housing. 1 comment.

America’s big cities are turning into housing catastrophes. If we want to fix this mess, we should try and copy Tokyo.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/americas-big-cities-turning-housing-120600526.html

America’s big cities are turning into housing catastrophes. If we want to fix this mess, we should try and copy Tokyo.

By Jairaj Devadiga

October 9, 2021

Tokyo

A view of residential houses in Tokyo, Japan.

In major cities around the world, housing is becoming less and less affordable.

Tokyo, Japan, is a notable exception, with prices barely rising since 1995.

The US has restrictive, often absurd regulations, and should instead mirror Tokyo.

Jairaj Devadiga is an economist specializing in public policy and economic history.

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

In major cities around the world, housing prices have spiraled out of control.

In California’s Bay Area, the median house price is $1.3 million. In Vancouver, the average household must save for 34 years to make a down payment on a house, and put aside 85% of its pre-tax income for mortgage payments. In Sydney, a decrepit house without any toilet facilities sells for $3.5 million.

In this sea of craziness, Tokyo has been an island of sanity. Its housing prices have barely risen since 1995. This is not due to deflation either.

While the population of Japan as a whole has been shrinking, Tokyo has been growing. Between 1995 and 2019, the population of Tokyo grew by 2.17 million, or just above 90,000 per year on average. To accommodate all these new people, lots of housing had to be built. Over the same time period, there was an average of 153,000 housing starts annually.

A study by the Fraser Institute illustrates what happens when housing supply fails to keep up with demand. Between 2015 and 2019, 120,000 new jobs were created in Vancouver and Toronto. In the same time period, there were only 57,000 housing starts every year. Since demand was growing more than twice as fast as supply, prices skyrocketed. The same story played out in almost every major city. Lots of new jobs being created, lots of people wanting to move, and not enough homes being built for all of them.

There are numerous bad policies which prevent the construction of more housing. Chief among them are restrictive zoning laws. In most cities with expensive housing, vast swathes of residential land are reserved exclusively for single family homes. Until very recently, the worst of the bunch was San Jose, with 94% of the land being off limits for apartment buildings. No wonder it is the least affordable city in America.

Not only does this make housing costlier for middle and low income folks, but also subsidizes mansions for the rich. The land on which a mansion sits would be worth a lot more if an apartment building could be built on it. The developer would make a profit even if they sold each apartment at an affordable price.

However, because that’s not allowed, developers won’t bid for that land, thus driving down its price.

While Tokyo does have low density zones, these do not prohibit multi-family buildings. Thus it is not uncommon to see a three story apartment building right next to a single family home.

Apart from zoning, cities dictate minimum lot sizes and maximum floor area ratios (how much of the plot is covered by the building itself), which further stifle construction. In much of Mumbai, for instance, the floor area ratio was capped at 1.33 until 2018.

This had the disastrous result of pushing poor people into slums, as they could not compete with affluent families for the limited housing. In 1971, 22% of Mumbai’s population lived in slums. By 2010, this had risen to 62%. By contrast, Tokyo allows floor area ratios as high as 13, and even higher with government permission.

Another problem is cities wanting to preserve too many historical sites. For instance, cities often declare old homes or commercial establishments to be historical monuments, which prevents them from being torn down and replaced with apartment buildings.

In some cases, cities prevent development even when the historical monument itself would be untouched. For instance, last year, a historic preservation board in Seattle rejected a proposal for a 200-unit apartment building because it would be taller than nearby historical monuments. While Tokyo has historic buildings, its criteria for preservation are much stricter and thus don’t get in the way of affordable housing.

Another important factor in raising housing prices is over-regulation. A recent report by the National Association of Home Builders estimates that regulations add almost $94,000 to the price of new homes. The vast majority of these regulations are purely aesthetic, such as mandating certain types of landscaping and architectural styles, or banning vinyl sidings.

This is not exclusive to American cities. A study on India’s Ahmedabad shows that unnecessary regulations add 34% to the cost of housing. By contrast, Tokyo has very few common sense regulations; mainly to protect against the frequent earthquakes. As long as developers follow these and the very liberal zoning laws, they are free to build as they please.

At this point, you might wonder why these restrictive rules persist if they are so obviously bad. Why is liberal city-planning the exception, rather than the norm? To answer this, we must examine the policy making process itself, to understand the motivations of all participants.

Consider San Jose, with its 94% single-family zoning. The politicians in San Jose were catering to the wishes of their constituents; the people already living in San Jose. Those voters wanted high prices. To them, their house is an investment, which would lose value if more housing were built in their neighborhood. It would also result in new neighbors bringing in a different culture from what the residents are used to.

People who wanted to move to San Jose, but couldn’t due to high prices, would benefit from more liberal planning. They might live in different parts of California, or even in other states. Obviously they don’t get to vote in San Jose elections, thus local politicians have no incentive to help them.

The same process plays out across every city, resulting in sky-high prices.

At the state or national level, though, the political calculus changes completely. People in a particular city might want to restrict housing development, but everyone else wants more. Thus state and national politicians have an incentive to liberalize.

This is exactly what happened in Japan. It too had local governments choking the housing market, resulting in a massive housing bubble in the 1980s. This prompted the national government to enact a series of reforms to rein in housing prices.

The national government formulates building codes, zoning laws, and other city-planning regulations for the entire country, giving very little leeway to local governments.

Recently, governor Gavin Newsom did something similar in California, by finally abolishing single-family zoning statewide, and also loosening some other restrictions.

To win elections, local politicians must necessarily keep down the supply of new housing. It is up to state and national governments to deny them that power, and quickly. Otherwise, home-ownership will remain a pipe-dream for most people.

October 9, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . Economics, Housing. Leave a comment.

S.F. spends more than $60K per tent at homeless sites. Now it’s being asked for another $15 million for the program.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/S-F-officials-want-15-million-for-tent-sites-16269998.php

S.F. spends more than $60K per tent at homeless sites. Now it’s being asked for another $15 million for the program.

By Trisha Thadani

June 24, 2021

San Francisco’s homelessness department is pushing to continue an expensive tent encampment program that it says is crucial for keeping people off the sidewalks, despite its high price tag of more than $60,000 per tent, per year.

The city has six so-called “safe sleeping villages,” where homeless people sleep in tents and also receive three meals a day, around-the-clock security, bathrooms and showers. The city created these sites during the pandemic to quickly get people off crowded sidewalks and into a place where they can socially distance and access basic services.

The program currently costs $18.2 million for about 260 tents. Unlike the city’s homeless hotel program, the tent villages are not eligible for federal reimbursement. Some of the sites have been run by nonprofits Urban Alchemy, Dolores Street Community Services and Larkin Street Youth Services.

The department is now asking the city for $15 million in the upcoming fiscal year for a similar number of tents, which amounts to about $57,000 per tent per year. If the funding is approved, San Francisco will pay about twice the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment for people to sleep in tents for the second year in a row.

The department plans to close some sites this year, but said it will look for new ones to replace them. Officials said they plan to significantly ramp down the program in fiscal year 2022-2023, when it expects to need $5 million to fund the program.

Several supervisors said at a Wednesday budget hearing that the cost must be re-examined, especially as the city winds down its COVID-19 emergency response.

“It is a big deal to have showers and bathrooms, and I don’t dispute that,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen said at Wednesday’s Budget and Finance Appropriations Committee meeting. “But the cost just doesn’t make any sense.”

Gigi Whitley, the homeless department’s deputy director of administration and finance, said the bulk of the costs at the sites come from the 24-hour security, three meals a day, and the rented shower and bathroom facilities.

Whitley said she hopes the department can control costs as it takes over the program from the city’s COVID-19 Command Center.

The tent program is entirely paid for through Proposition C, a 2018 business tax measure that collects money for homeless services. The cost accounts for only a fraction of the more-than $1 billion that the city expects to spend on homelessness over the next two years, mostly due to Prop. C.

Still, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí said it seemed like an “exorbitant” amount for a program that would be phased out as the COVID-19 emergency comes to an end.

The discussion comes as the city prepares to wind down its homeless hotel program, which is currently sheltering about 2,000 people. While the homeless department has promised that every hotel resident will be offered a housing placement, the city is still grappling with a tight housing market and limited shelter options for the thousands on its streets.

Shireen McSpadden, director of the department, said group shelters are still not allowed to operate at full capacity, despite Breed lifting all other COVID-19 restrictions on June 15.

The department said it is still “reviewing” federal shelter health guidelines and waiting on state public health guidance to “finalize the local shelter reopening plan and timeline.” The capacity reductions are significant: For example, there are currently only 91 guests allowed at the 200-bed Navigation Center on the Embarcadero, the department said.

Because of the shelter limitations and the upcoming closure of some hotels, McSpadden said she feels “strongly” that the city should maintain the tent program at its current level.

“We need it as just another tool in our toolkit as we bring people out of the hotels,” she said.

The board’s Budget and Finance Committee will decide whether to approve the proposal next week, before the entire budget moves to the full board for a vote. Then it will return to the mayor for her approval at the end of the summer.

Supervisor Matt Haney, chair of the committee, was also critical of the program’s cost Wednesday. He said the committee will decide next week whether it wants to reduce the money given to the tent sites and “instead direct the funds to other, more cost-effective investments to get people off the streets.”

June 26, 2021. Tags: , . Government waste, Housing. 1 comment.

San Francisco elected official Hillary Ronen blames the city’s homeless problem on “Republican ideology.” She is wrong. Here are six reasons why “progressive ideology” is the real cause of the city’s homeless problem.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

September 1, 2020

Hillary Ronen is an elected government official who gets paid $140,148 per year to work as a member of the legislative body for San Francisco.

In this video, Ronen blames San Francisco’s homeless problem on “Republican ideology.” (Skip to 8:52 in the video).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw8MACDZ3RI

Ronen is wrong.

“Republican ideology” is not the cause of San Francisco’s homeless problem.

Here six are reasons why “progressive ideology” is the real cause of San Francisco’s homeless problem.

First of all, here is a link to an article that was published by the Atlantic in 2007.

When a developer builds housing, there are three separate and distinct costs: the cost of land, the cost of construction, and the cost of getting a building permit (which the article refers to as the “right to build”).

The article includes this chart:

So in San Francisco, getting a building permit (which the article refers to as the “right to build”) adds approximately $700,000 to the cost of a new home.

And please remember, this cost for the “right to build” is completely separate from the cost of the land, and the cost of construction.

The cost for the “right to build” is determined entirely, 100% by zoning laws, density restrictions, and other local government policies.

Since Hillary Ronen is an elected government official who works as a member of the legislative body of San Francisco, she is one of the people who is responsible for the city’s zoning laws, density restrictions, and other local government policies.

Secondly, here’s another example of how hard it is to get a building permit in California:

http://www.aei.org/publication/texas-great-american-job-machine-solely-responsible-1m-net-us-job-increase-since-2007/

January 23, 2015

… there were more permits for single-family homes issued last year through November in just one Texas city – Houston (34,566) – than in the entire state of California (34,035) over the same period.

Let’s put this into perspective.

Houston is 628 square miles.

California is 163,696 square miles.

So even though California is 260 times as big as Houston, Houston actually issued more new building permits for single family homes in 2014 than did the entire state of California.

Just think about that for a minute.

Those numbers show just how incredibly, ridiculously hard California makes it to build new housing.

Anyone who has ever bought or sold anything at eBay understands that, all else being equal, the bigger the supply of something, the lower price, and the lower the supply, the higher the price.

By making it so difficult to get a building permit in California, the government is causing housing to be far, far more expensive than it would otherwise be.

Third, here is a great article by Thomas Sowell about how the politicians in California have waged war against the construction of new housing.

Fourth, this video also explains San Francisco’s war against the construction of new housing. And please note that it is progressives, social justice warriors, and other left wing activists who are the ones that are most opposed to building this new housing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExgxwKnH8y4

Fifth, in the video with Ronen that I included at the beginning of this blog post, she brags about creating a new government program that gives free illegal drugs to homeless people. (Skip to 7:56 in the video.)

Being high on illegal drugs makes the problem of homelessness bigger, not smaller.

And sixth, the Washington Post published this article, which is called:

“Rand Paul is right: The most economically unequal states are Democratic”

The article includes this chart, which ranks the states by their levels of inequality based on their Gini coefficients.

You can see a bigger version of the chart at this link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/NJ6UOCWVE426LBX7NOQN6ECZVU.jpg

The information in the chart verifies the title of the Washington Post article. Blue states have more inequality than red states.

So that’s six different reasons why Hillary Ronen is wrong to blame San Francisco’s homeless problem on “Republican ideology.”

In each and every one of those six cases, it is actually “progressive ideology” that is causing San Francisco’s homeless problem.

San Francisco is waging a very strong, major war against the constriction of new housing.

For Hillary Ronen to blame this on “Republican ideology” is a huge lie.

On the contrary, since Ronen is one of the left wing, progressive, elected government officials responsible for San Francisco’s housing policies, it is Ronen’s own fault that San Francisco has such a big homeless problem.

September 1, 2020. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Housing, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Minneapolis vandalism targets include 189-unit affordable housing development

https://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-vandalism-targets-include-189-unit-affordable-housing-development/570836742/

Minneapolis vandalism targets include 189-unit affordable housing development

The apartments were expected to hit the market later this year.

By Jim Buchta

May 28, 2020

The affordable housing development that burned late Wednesday in south Minneapolis was a six-story building with 189 units that was under construction and expected to open later this year.

The under-construction affordable housing development that burned in the widespread violence in south Minneapolis late Wednesday and early Thursday was to be a six-story rental building with 189 apartments for low-income renters, including more than three dozen for very low-income tenants.

Construction began last fall on Midtown Corner, which was expected to be completed and ready for occupancy this year. Late Wednesday the wood-framed upper floors of the building were fully engulfed in flames, with thick plumes of smoke that figured prominently in widely viewed photos of the riots. By Thursday morning, what had been an active construction site was reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes atop what was left of the concrete first-floor commercial space.

The redevelopment project was on the site of the former Rainbow Foods grocery store at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in south Minneapolis.

The developer, Twin Cities-based Wellington Management, declined to comment Thursday on the fate of the project.

Wellington has done several income-restricted rental projects throughout the Twin Cities on difficult-to-redevelop sites, including offices and an apartment building that are under construction along Penn Avenue in north Minneapolis.

Wellington has been a prolific developer and investor in the area for more than a decade. Over the years the company has developed several rental buildings in the Lake and Hiawatha corridor, and it has also invested in commercial projects including the Greenway Office Building and the Hi-Lake Shopping Center.

The fire also heavily damaged 7-Sigma, a high-tech manufacturing company that’s occupied a low-rise industrial building across the street from the Midtown Corner site for more than 30 years. The entire roof and upper floors of that brick building were destroyed, and water spilled out of broken windows on the lower floors as firefighters continued dousing the building with water early Thursday.

Barb Jeanetta is executive director of Alliance Housing, a nonprofit that has two rental buildings in the area, including Hiawatha Commons, an 80-unit low-income apartment building adjacent to Cub Foods and Target. Some of the first-floor retail tenants were looted and vandalized, but the building was largely unscathed.

“It’s just such a firestorm right now,” she said. “All in all, we came out pretty lucky.”

May 29, 2020. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Housing, Police brutality, Racism, Rioting looting and arson, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Democrats give public housing to illegal aliens instead of to U.S. citizens

I just found out that Democrats are giving public housing to illegal aliens instead of to U.S. citizens.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said of this:

“There is an affordable-housing crisis in this country, and we need to make certain our scarce public ­resources help those who are ­legally entitled to it.”

President Trump has ordered illegal aliens to get out of public housing within 18 months.

Democrats don’t like that one bit.

New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said of Trump’s order:

“This is what cruelty looks like.”

Apparently, de Blasio doesn’t think it’s “cruel” to keep U.S. citizens out of these public housing units that are currently being occupied by illegal aliens.

U.S. Congressional Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) said that Carson was

“despicable” for “ripping apart families and throwing children on the street”

Apparently, Maloney thinks that if illegal aliens move out of public housing, this will somehow cause them to abandon their own children.

Also, apparently, Maloney doesn’t think it’s “despicable” that Democrats are causing U.S. citizens to be homeless.

With the demand for public housing exceeding the supply, it is necessary to prioritize who should and should not be allowed to live in it. By choosing to give this housing to illegal aliens instead of to U.S. citizens, Democrats have shown where their true loyalties lie.

May 22, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Donald Trump, Housing, Immigration. Leave a comment.

U.S. Congressional representative Katie Porter (D-California) doesn’t seem to think that children need a father, and doesn’t seem to care about the density restrictions and other anti-development laws that increase the cost of housing in California

U.S. Congressional representative Katie Porter (D-California) recently talked about “Patricia,” one of her “constituents” who lives in Irvine, California.

Here’s a video of part of Porter’s statement, from the Washington Post channel at YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QKOLydDfNg

Since Porter said she looked up the salary of Patricia’s job at monster.com, I am guessing that “Patricia” is fictional. Nevertheless, I will go along with this, and offer my comments and analysis.

Patricia works as a bank teller at JPMorgan Chase, and earns $16.50 per hour, which works out to $35,070 per year. Patricia has a six-year old daughter, and the two of them live together in a one-bedroom apartment in Irvine, California. After taxes, Patricia takes home $29,100 per year, which is $2,425 per month.

Porter provided this image of Patricia’s monthly expenses:

These are Patricia’s monthly expenses:

$1,600 rent

$100 utilities

$250 on a 2008 car

$150 gas

$402 USDA “low cost” food for one adult and one child

$40 phone

$450 after school childcare

This leaves Patricia with a monthly budget deficit of $567.

Porter blames this budget deficit on JPMorgan Chase.

Now I’d like to offer my own commentary and opinion on this, in three different categories.

First of all, Porter makes no mention whatsoever of Patricia’s child’s father.

If Patricia was actually married, then her husband could work from home and take care of their child after school, and there would be no need to spend $450 per month on after school child care. Also, her husband’s income from working at home would make it easier to pay for their other expenses.

This refusal by Porter to even so much as mention Patricia’s child’s father is typical of liberals when they talk about single mothers who are struggling to raise their children. I have previously written about liberals’ refusal to mention the fathers of these children here, here, here, here, and here.

Secondly, Porter never mentions how density restrictions and other anti-development laws cause the price of housing in California to be substantially higher than it would otherwise be.

But I will mention it.

Here is a link to an article that was published by the Atlantic in 2007.

When a developer builds housing, there are three separate and distinct costs: the cost of land, the cost of construction, and the cost of getting a building permit (which the article refers to as the “right to build”).

Irvine is in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. According to the Atlantic article, using data from 1999, getting permission for the “right to build” added $303,000 to the cost of a house in Los Angeles in 1999.

Here’s part of the relevant text from the article:

In a 2003 article, Glaeser and Gyourko calculated the two different land values for 26 cities (using data from 1999). They found wide disparities. In Los Angeles, an extra quarter acre cost about $28,000 – the pure price of land. But the cost of empty land isn’t the whole story, or even most of it. A quarter- acre lot minus the cost of the house came out to about $331,000—nearly 12 times as much as the extra quarter acre. The difference between the first and second prices, around $303,000, was what L.A. home buyers paid for local land-use controls in bureaucratic delays, density restrictions, fees, political contributions. That’s the cost of the right to build.

And that right costs much less in Dallas. There, adding an extra quarter acre ran about $2,300—raw land really is much cheaper—and a quarter acre minus the cost of construction was about $59,000. The right to build was nearly a quarter million dollars less than in L.A. Hence the huge difference in housing prices. Land is indeed more expensive in superstar cities. But getting permission to build is way, way more expensive. These cities, says Gyourko, “just control the heck out of land use.”

The same article also includes this chart:

And please remember, this cost for the “right to build” is completely separate from the cost of the land, and the cost of construction.

The cost for the “right to build” is determined entirely, 100% by zoning laws, density restrictions, and other local government policies.

Here’s another example of how hard it is to get a building permit in California:

http://www.aei.org/publication/texas-great-american-job-machine-solely-responsible-1m-net-us-job-increase-since-2007/

January 23, 2015

… there were more permits for single-family homes issued last year through November in just one Texas city – Houston (34,566) – than in the entire state of California (34,035) over the same period.

Let’s put this into perspective.

Houston is 628 square miles.

California is 163,696 square miles.

So even though California is 260 times as big as Houston, Houston actually issued more new building permits for single family homes in 2014 than did the entire state of California.

Just think about that for a minute.

Those numbers show just how incredibly, ridiculously hard California makes it to build new housing.

Anyone who has ever bought or sold anything at eBay understands that, all else being equal, the bigger the supply of something, the lower price, and the lower the supply, the higher the price.

By making it so difficult to get a building permit in California, the government is causing housing to be far, far more expensive than it would otherwise be.

Here is a great article by Thomas Sowell about how the politicians in California have waged war against the construction of new housing.

This video also explains California’s war against the construction of new housing. And please note that it is progressives, social justice warriors, and other left wing activists who are the ones that are most opposed to building this new housing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExgxwKnH8y4

California is waging a very strong, major war against the constriction of new housing.

But Porter never mentions any of this.

Third, being a bank teller is an entry level job. It doesn’t require any education beyond high school.

If Patricia wanted to earn more money, she could have gone to college or trade school before having a child.

But Porter never mentions this, either.

April 15, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Economics, Housing. 2 comments.

Wealthy ‘NIMBY’ libs in Pelosi’s SF district raise $60G to fight center for city’s homeless

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/san-franciscos-wealthy-in-pelosis-district-raise-60g-to-oppose-homeless-shelter-as-city-struggles-with-homelessness

Wealthy ‘NIMBY’ libs in Pelosi’s SF district raise $60G to fight center for city’s homeless

March 29, 2019

Rich San Francisco residents in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district have collected more than $60,000 after starting an online crowdsourcing campaign to wage a legal challenge against a proposed center for the city’s homeless.

The campaign, called “Safe Embarcadero for All,” was launched March 20 after San Francisco Mayor London Breed proposed a 200-bed homeless Navigation Center in the city’s most desirable location, the Embarcadero along the coast of San Francisco Bay, earlier this month.

“The planned location for Mayor Breed’s #megashelter is home to thousands of families, visited by millions of tourists and at the center of some of San Francisco’s most iconic events – including the San Francisco Marathon, San Francisco Giants stadium and on one of the busiest bicyclist paths in the city,” reads the site posted by the group opposing the construction.

The campaign shamelessly raised over $60,000 and is on track to reach the desired $100,000 goal, with the money used to pay attorney Andrew Zacks, who often represents property owners, to help the dissatisfied “Not In My Backyard” residents in the neighborhood.

More than 130 people have chipped in, although many did so anonymously. The biggest donation came from an unknown resident who gave $10,000 to the cause.

A Fox News review of records found that multiple individuals – bank executives, professors and authors – who donated to the GoFundMe page have also contributed to Democratic political groups, including thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee, MoveOn, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and other left-leaning organizations.

One of the donors, Jerome Dodson, who has since scrubbed his $1,000 contribution to the campaign, is reportedly a chairman of a “responsible investment fund” that seeks to make “a positive impact on society,” according to the Washington Free Beacon. The investment fund executive donated to Democratic candidates and groups over the years, including Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Fox News reached out to Pelosi’s office, asking whether she offered her support for the project designed to combat homeless in her own district.

A competing GoFundMe campaign was started in support of the project for the homeless in the city, attracting a $5,000 donation from GoFundMe itself. The effort so far has garnered nearly $33,000 in donations – surpassing a set goal of $30,000.

San Francisco’s mayor, meanwhile, slammed the group opposing the construction in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“People want us to address the challenges on our streets and help our unsheltered residents into housing, and I am committed to doing the hard work to make that happen,” Breed said.

“But it’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing,” she added, “that as soon as we put forward a solution to build a new shelter, people begin to threaten legal action.”

March 29, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Housing, Politics. Leave a comment.

San Francisco spends $37,000 on each homeless person per year. So why are they still homeless?

I just came across this news article from the San Francisco affiliate of NBC News:

San Francisco is slated to spend nearly $280 million this year on housing and services for the homeless — a roughly 40 percent increase compared to just five years ago. Over that same span, however, the number of homeless in the city has largely remained the same at about 7,500 people, according to city counts.

In other words, San Francisco spends $37,000 on each homeless person per year.

So why are they still homeless?

My best guess is that it’s because this spending is more about helping the government bureaucrats and social workers than it is about actually helping the homeless.

July 16, 2018. Tags: , , , . Government waste, Housing. 1 comment.

San Francisco developer builds 160 unit apartment building on 9,000 square foot lot

I just came across this wonderful success story in San Francisco.

At 16:00 in the video below, the developer says:

“This is only a 9,000 square foot lot and yet we have 160 apartments in it. It comes to about 800 units an acre.”

I have no idea how he got permission to build such dense housing. (See here for an explanation of how San Francisco politicians deliberately prevent affordable housing from being built.)

The video also explains how these “micro-apartments” cater specifically to people who do not own cars.

The amenities in the building are quite amazing.

This type of high density apartment building is exactly what the city needs. And they need a huge number of them.

I wasn’t deterred by the video’s 20 minute length. I watched the entire thing, and I found it to be quite enjoyable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LI0tqVmGtI

October 1, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Economics, Housing. 2 comments.