Multifamily Affordable Housing in Michigan: Energy Efficiency for All

May 1st marked the launch of the Consumers Energy program designed specifically to meet the needs of multifamily affordable housing. The pilot is part of a larger initiative to scale up energy efficiency in multifamily affordable housing across the country that the NRDC is helping lead.

The pilot will touch 1,224 units in 79 buildings and utilize $400,000 worth of incentives over the next two years. Based on a typical centrally heated, 3-story, 24-unit masonry structure with 24,000 square feet of heated space, measures such as air sealing, roof insulation, boiler replacement, boiler controls, radiator replacement and CFL installations can result in savings on energy costs reaching $44,350 in 5 years. Seeing approximately the same level of success in these 1,224 units could translate into over $2,200,000 dollars in energy cost savings in just 5 years!

- NRDC Switchboard

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Underwater homes: Minorities still suffering from housing collapse

Despite the Bay Area’s robust housing recovery, the East Bay communities of Vallejo, Antioch and Richmond are among the nation’s 100 cities with the highest percentages of underwater mortgages, according to a report released Thursday.

“While we talk about recovery, a large part of the country is not only not recovering, it is largely being ignored,” said John A. Powell, a law professor and director of the Haas Institute.

“They are disproportionately black and Latino communities. It affects not just homeowners, but cities and states,” Powell said. “In places like Richmond and Vallejo, cities can’t function.”

- Mercury News

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to Send Treasury $10.2 Billion

Government-controlled mortgage financers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac posted solid earnings for the January-March period as the U.S. housing market continued to recover. Gains over recent quarters have enabled the companies to fully repay their taxpayer aid after being rescued by the government in 2008.

The gradual recovery of the housing market has made Fannie and Freddie profitable again. Their repayments of the government loans helped make last year’s federal budget deficit the smallest in five years.

- Daily Finance

Milwaukee officials back new source of money for affordable housing

Milwaukee officials this month are considering a new source of money to promote affordable housing development and combat foreclosures.

The new money would come from city tax incremental financing districts. Those districts let the city reserve property taxes on new developments in a given area, and spend it on infrastructure or grants to developers, for example. The districts traditionally dissolve after paying back all the money the city has spent on its initiatives.

Under the housing proposal, the districts would remain open one additional year after those costs are paid and dedicate their property taxes to affordable housing projects. After that year, the districts would close out, and the taxes they generate will go into the city’s overall budget.

- Milwaukee Business Journal

National Women Build Week encourages women to help build affordable housing

Actress Holly Robinson Peete will join more than 13,000 women across the country to build or repair homes at Habitat for Humanity construction sites in recognition of National Women Build Week, May 3-11. Held the week leading up to Mother’s Day, National Women Build Week encourages women to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities. The week also spotlights the homeownership challenges faced by women.

Now in its seventh year, National Women Build Week is a nationwide initiative of Habitat’s Women Build program developed in partnership with Lowe’s.

- PR Newswire

U.S. Bank Commits $202 Million in Tax Credit Investments

U.S. Bank more than doubled the amount of tax credit equity financing it committed to support community development projects in the southeastern United States last year. The bank committed $202 million in funding for projects.

Made through the bank’s community development subsidiary U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC) in the form of tax credit equity investments, the funding supported the development of affordable housing, rehabilitation of vacant buildings and job-creating economic development projects in rural areas.

- PR Newswire

Can Atlanta Go All In on the BeltLine?

The BeltLine is Atlanta’s multibillion-dollar, 25-year project to transform 22 miles of railroad and industrial sites into a sustainable network connecting 45 inner-city communities. The largest redevelopment project in Atlanta’s history — which is saying something in a city that was rebuilt from the ground up after a certain W. T. Sherman paid a visit 150 years ago — the BeltLine is one of the boldest sustainability projects in urban America.

What makes the BeltLine potentially so transformative is that, unlike the hundreds of “rails to trails” projects nationwide, it is designed as a transportation project. It will include light rail lines with 45 neighborhood stops and connections to the city’s MARTA rail system and the Atlanta Streetcar.

The BeltLine has the potential to cross the literal barriers that have separated Atlantans and thus begin to break down far more complex social barriers. Atlanta’s traffic woes are obvious. But the difficulty in getting around here, and the entrenched patterns of segregation have contributed to another kind of gridlock, make this one of the cities with the lowest social and economic mobility in the country. The BeltLine can provide parks and bike trails and cultural events, all of which is marvelous. But if it connects Atlanta’s schools, jobs, and neighborhoods, and gets us out of our cars, it will really live up its potential.

- Atlantic Cities

Rift Over Affordable Housing Complicates GSE Debate

The fate of low-income and minority families under housing finance reform remains at the heart of negotiations over a Senate bill, highlighting a longstanding split between advocates pushing for affordable rental options and those urging access to homeownership.

The latest salvo came Monday when a coalition of nearly 200 housing organizations, including 33 national groups, sent a letter to the six Democrats on the committee who haven’t joined the bill, urging them to do so.

The housing advocates, which include seniors and veterans groups, along with those that support the homeless and people with disabilities, say they recognize concerns about access to homeownership for minorities and other groups under the new system, but argue that the bill still goes a long way to improving funding for affordable rental options.

- National Mortgage News

What Does de Blasio’s Affordable Housing Policy Mean for the Homeless?

A number of homeless advocates told the Observer that they were greatly relieved to see that the de Blasio administration intends to re-instate several programs and policies whose disappearance has coincided with the ballooning number of families in the city’s shelter system. Among them: prioritizing homeless families for Section 8 vouchers and NYCHA apartments, as well as moving to reinstate a rental assistance program.

Additionally, now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has removed a restriction that prohibited New York City from using state funds earmarked for homelessness for long-term housing, the city has, if not more funding to shift homeless families into supportive and subsidized housing, then at least the legal wherewithal to do so. (Creating more housing for low-income New Yorkers, a move that was announced in yesterday’s plan and differs from Bloomberg-era policies that focused heavily on middle-income affordable housing, should provide another bulwark against homelessness going forward.)

- NY Observer

Public Investors To Be Sought for Ann Arbor Public Housing Sites

Three properties that provide public housing are recommended to be rezoned, following action at the May 6, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission. The sites are part of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission’s major initiative to upgrade the city’s public housing units by seeking private investors through low-income housing tax credits.

AAHC director Jennifer Hall explained that PL zoning doesn’t allow housing to be built on it. As AAHC seeks private funding to rehab its properties, it needs to ensure if a building burns down, for example, it could be rebuilt.

- Ann Arbor Chronicle