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Old 07-29-2013, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
13,238 posts, read 13,501,534 times
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In my own city, as in many places, there's been a movement to eliminate all remaining public housing projects, replacing them with "mixed-income" developments which contain some market rate units, and some with reduced rates. The infill is generally built at lower density than the old projects, even counting the market-rate units, with the vast majority of former residents going into Section 8 rentals elsewhere.

The replacement has been controversial to some degree in two neighborhoods.

One, the Hill District, is the historic center of the African-American community in Pittsburgh. Although it's bottomed out and been getting better, it's essentially a "hole" in the city's development fabric now, as large portions are vacant or subsidized housing, despite being immediately adjacent to downtown, being bordered by the main university district (Oakland) to the Southwest, and surrounded by gentrifying neighborhoods in all other directions.

The other, East Liberty, was historically the center of retail and commerce in the East End of the city. Horribly done urban planning wrecked the businesses district, and there was a partial racial turnover in the 1960s and 1970s. The neighborhood is now rapidly being "revitalized," as it borders very desirable high-priced neighborhoods to the north and south.

Regardless, there are generally two arguments I hear regarding whether existing low-income housing options should be replaced.

1. Low income people are generally reliant on mass transit. Hence, they should be given living options which remain in areas well served by public transit.

2. While it might be an important social good to provide subsidized housing, it should not be subsidized in "prime" areas. If people are being given housing for a very low cost, or no cost, they should expect to live in somewhere not as immediately convenient as those paying top dollar.

Regardless, where do people side on this?
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Planet Earth
3,875 posts, read 8,154,929 times
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Well, I do think that some of the low-income housing should remain in that same area. It's generally good to have some economic integration.

For the other residents who are forced to move to other neighborhoods, if the issue is that those other neighborhoods have poorer public transit access, then you should try to see if it's possible to send them to areas that are conducive to having good public transit. (Don't send them out to some sprawly suburb if they need good transit)

For instance, if you have a TOD project in a middle-income suburb (or on the outskirts of the city), some of the former public housing residents could move to that area. The trip to the center of the city would of course be longer, but at least you still have the same convenience in terms of proximity to the transit and the frequency. (And there's nothing saying that their job has to be in the center of the city either. Low-paying jobs are usually scattered about, rather than being concentrated in the center).
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:30 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
33 posts, read 55,055 times
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I know San Francisco has some rules that, for all new developments over 10 units, the developer has three options:
  1. Make 12% of the on-site units affordable
  2. Build another affordable development offsite, which has at least 20% of the units of the current development
  3. Pay a one time, per-unit fee that works out to about $172K for a studio, and adding about $69K for each additional bedroom in the unit

In some areas of the city, the required percentage of affordable units is even higher. Also, if you do an offsite development, it's generally required to be near the original development.

I'd say the 10 unit requirement is due to the fact that most of SF's housing stock is made up of smaller apartments with fewer than 10 units. Much of the newer construction is made up of 5-8 story buildings and a few huge high rises.

As to your questions, I think SF's approach is somewhat reasonable. There is an issue that, if you replace existing low-income housing with the first two of these options, you may not be replacing all of the affordable housing that is lost. I'd disagree with the opinion that they should be forced out due to market pressures. If no place exists for them to move to, or if the move requires them to get a car (or drive further), then this would only exacerbate the already poor situation they find themselves in. Additionally, I'd agree with checkmatechamp13 in that some degree of economic integration is desirable and is beneficial to society at large.
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Old 01-20-2014, 03:41 AM
 
4,836 posts, read 3,048,038 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
In my own city, as in many places, there's been a movement to eliminate all remaining public housing projects, replacing them with "mixed-income" developments which contain some market rate units, and some with reduced rates. The infill is generally built at lower density than the old projects, even counting the market-rate units, with the vast majority of former residents going into Section 8 rentals elsewhere.

The replacement has been controversial to some degree in two neighborhoods.

One, the Hill District, is the historic center of the African-American community in Pittsburgh. Although it's bottomed out and been getting better, it's essentially a "hole" in the city's development fabric now, as large portions are vacant or subsidized housing, despite being immediately adjacent to downtown, being bordered by the main university district (Oakland) to the Southwest, and surrounded by gentrifying neighborhoods in all other directions.

The other, East Liberty, was historically the center of retail and commerce in the East End of the city. Horribly done urban planning wrecked the businesses district, and there was a partial racial turnover in the 1960s and 1970s. The neighborhood is now rapidly being "revitalized," as it borders very desirable high-priced neighborhoods to the north and south.

Regardless, there are generally two arguments I hear regarding whether existing low-income housing options should be replaced.

1. Low income people are generally reliant on mass transit. Hence, they should be given living options which remain in areas well served by public transit.

2. While it might be an important social good to provide subsidized housing, it should not be subsidized in "prime" areas. If people are being given housing for a very low cost, or no cost, they should expect to live in somewhere not as immediately convenient as those paying top dollar.

Regardless, where do people side on this?
My mother lived in a very nice housing complex where she was paying $1800. One day a single mother with three kids moved in next door. They were heavily subsidized and if I remember correctly paid less than half the going rate.

Anyway... not long after a boyfriend moves in and the loud music starts. And not long after that teens begin coming in and out of the place. What was going on I have no idea, but the whole scene was becoming uncomfortable and my mother moved within six months.

Last edited by john3232; 01-20-2014 at 04:24 AM..
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:38 AM
 
Location: Vallejo
16,323 posts, read 18,269,571 times
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Subsidized housing you can usually screen people well enough to avoid a lot of the problems. Eg, if you have any drug/criminal problems, you can't get the subsidy. Public housing usually that wasn't the case. Other times you end up with John's situation where they just don't care about the properties. The illegal sublet boyfriend drug dealer moves in and stats pushing drugs or pimping out the single mother and her teenage kids. Trick is to make it about 80% market rate with property management retained privately. That at least gives you a chance they'll step in quickly and evict the bad apples.
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Old 01-20-2014, 06:20 AM
 
4,836 posts, read 3,048,038 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
... Trick is to make it about 80% market rate..
In that situation they will likely be in the same economic class as the neighbors so why give them a 20% discount?

In the case of where my mother was living her new neighbor (single mother) clearly had a different financial status. There was no way that woman could afford anything close to market rate but if you want mixed income housing this is the only way.

Unfortunately, it's not fair to those paying market rate because such social tinkering has risks which can bring in serious problems.
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
28,095 posts, read 32,264,584 times
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I don't think SF is doing a good job at all. Way too many projects pay out of developing their "Affordable" housing, and the money goes into the pool of money for affordable projects that take eons to develop.

I think a few things need to happen. We need to develop way more housing near transit, at all price levels. i think neighborhoods near transit should be mixed income, but buildings don't necessarily have to be. It really depends. But everyone does better when there is a variety of types of people and land uses in the same neighborhood.

The city of Oakland redid one of the notorious housing projects into those low rise types that are trendy now. It is actually much better, in terms of crime stats. The complex has day care, a clinic and tons of neighborhood services. Unfortunately, this area is still really underserved by retail, and the nearest grocery store is 3 miles away, and there are no easy bus routes. One is in a neighboring town, and the other one in the 3 mile radius is Whole Foods. A community organization is working on a community funded/sponsored grocery store in the area, but they are in the fund raising stage now. And another non-profit has a similar mission, but the area is still a food dessert by far.

To contrast, I live about 4 miles away from these "housing projects" and I've got 7 or so full service grocery stores in a 2 mile radius -- as in places that sell produce and fresh meat. (2 Trader Joes, Whole Foods, 2 Safeways...perhaps even 3, indie full service grocery, full-service markets in Chinatown and Koreatown, and a full service Middle Eastern Market, and discount foods place.) I could be forgetting some. And another market is planned too in my two mile radius, that opens next year. I've also got produce stands, 3 year round farmers markets, and lots of specialty food retail. Open it up to 3 miles, and I've added in another 4-6 stores. Looking at the grocery store map in Oakland really illustrates the gap between the "haves" and "have nots."
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Old 01-20-2014, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Holly Neighborhood, Austin, Texas
3,835 posts, read 5,710,773 times
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I agree that the first priorities for such housing should be proximity to good transit and jobs. Unfortunately a lot of policy makers and advocacy groups try to make Historically (insert minority group here) areas a top priority even after gentrification has made investments in these areas less practical.

In Austin they are building this development instead of building a larger development with the proceeds of the land sale just a bit farther out:

First low-income housing project in decades planned for downtown | www.statesman.com

The area a bit farther from downtown still has multiple bus routes to downtown, something like 5-10 minute commutes if you hit it right.

The planners for this also did not factor in opportunity costs. That is the city and county are foregoing a massive amount of property taxes - probably in the area $8-10k/unit/year - by making these (most likely) exempt. Even if they are not exempt they will be assessed at a much lower value, and there will be less money in the coffers for low income housing projects.
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Old 01-21-2014, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,038 posts, read 31,576,816 times
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I am all for decentralization of low incomes so that it prevents a depression of land value. With new developments, I like the idea of giving incentives for low income housing. Though I am against developers getting these incentives and saying they will be done in a later phase only to say they can't afford it when they get to that later phase.
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:37 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
13,238 posts, read 13,501,534 times
Reputation: 11164
Quote:
Originally Posted by john3232 View Post
In that situation they will likely be in the same economic class as the neighbors so why give them a 20% discount?
I presume he meant no more than 20% of the units should be subsidized, in an attempt to dilute, rather than concentrate, the effects of poverty.
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