Here’s a look at the best stories on homeownership and housing from the past week that got our attention. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments section.
On Monday, reporter Kirk Semple of The New York Times took a look at overcrowding in the city and found that it had gotten exponentially worse:
According to the latest Census Bureau data, about 9 percent of all households — or nearly 280,000 units — in New York City have more than one person per room, a common government measure of crowding. A decade ago, the rate was 8 percent. The change represents nearly a 13 percent increase. By comparison, the national crowding rate is 3.4 percent.
The crowding problem in New York worsens considerably in specific neighborhoods, particularly those with large working-class and immigrant populations where it is not unusual for two families to cram into apartments intended for one, and laborers to sleep two, three or more to a room.
On the same day, Sally Goldenberg of Politico New York reported on the “senior housing crisis” with powerful anecdotes to uncover a brewing crisis for those people who find themselves challenged by aging, mobility and life on fixed incomes:
A recent study by the non-profit advocacy group LiveOn NY found 101,936 people age 62 and older are waiting an average of seven years for slots in 119 buildings that provide rent-regulated apartments across the city.
The researchers for the study, titled “Through the Roof—Waiting Lists for Senior Housing,” only received responses from 43 percent of the 276 buildings in the federally-subsidized housing program it surveyed, leaving the organization to project that wait lists for low-income senior apartments likely exceed 200,000 people in the city.
The population of elderly people in the five boroughs is big and growing, and the shortage of federal funding to cover the cost of building homes for them is stark.
Over at CityLab, Ellie Anzilotti took a deep dive last weekend into the history of affordable housing in New York:
Affordable housing in New York is inseparable from its long and complicated history. “It’s a layered, sedimentary system,” says Nicholas Dagen Bloom, a social science professor at New York Institute of Technology. Developments from each decade dating back to the turn of the 20th century exist now alongside each other, governed and financed through myriad means. When it comes to affordable housing, there is no one story to tell.
On Tuesday, Nathan Vardi at Forbes gave us a portrait of John Grayken of Lone Star Funds, one of the most divisive figures in “distressed investing”:
Since the Great Recession Grayken has made a specialty of buying up distressed and delinquent home mortgages from government agencies and banks worldwide. He’s also picked up a major payday lender, a Spanish home builder and an Irish hotel chain. Regulators hassle him, and the homeowners whose mortgages he owns or services despise his tactics. In fact, he has become accustomed to taking shots from detractors and has been the subject of protests from New York to Berlin to Seoul. Last year New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reportedly opened an investigation into Grayken’s heavy-handed mortgage-servicing tactics, including aggressive foreclosures, which have unleashed widespread outcries from homeowners, housing advocates and trade unions.
There are real questions about the human costs of Lone Star Funds’ business practices,’ says Elliott Mallen, a research analyst for Unite Here, a union representing 270,000 hotel and industrial workers.
Finally, The Atlantic’s Gillian White interviewed Matthew Desmond, author of the new book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” on how removing people from their homes can exacerbate cycles of poverty:
Desmond: The face of the eviction epidemic is moms and kids, especially poor moms from predominantly Latino and African American neighborhoods. We found that about one in five African American women renters report being evicted at some point in their lives. The equivalent is about one in 15 for white women renters. So there’s an enormous discrepancy.
Image Credit: Flickr / Nick Normal