A series of new national resources are set to be of use to housing folks here at home in Minnesota. A new report looks at housing costs compared to earnings in metro areas across the nation, including the Twin Cities and Duluth. A novel policy recommendation could help low-income families build assets as they move through federal rental housing programs. And HUD makes its website a little more user-friendly for people interested in preserving multi-family housing.
Paycheck to Paycheck Compares Earnings to Housing Costs for 200+ Metros
The Center for Housing Policy recently released an update of Paycheck to Paycheck, which compares wages for workers in 72 different occupations against housing costs in over 200 U.S. metro areas. Minneapolis-St. Paul and Duluth are the Minnesota cities included. The top finding of this year's report was that of the five most common jobs in the industry sector doing the most hiring -- accountants, groundskeepers, janitors, office clerks and security guards -- only one, accounting, pays enough on average for workers to afford rent or mortgage payments at typical prices nationwide. This held true in the Twin Cities, though in Duluth renting a 2-bedroom apartment was affordable to most of the top hiring occupations. The report also ranks metro areas for rental and home ownership costs and looks at changes in these costs from 2010 to 2011.
Policy recommendation for building assets through subsidized rental housing
A new paper recommends a novel policy approach to help families build assets while they are receiving a federal rental housing subsidy. The paper, Taking Asset Building and Earnings Incentives to Scale in HUD-Assisted Rental Housing, suggests that as people's earnings grow, a portion of their increased earnings could be escrowed for future use such as for a downpayment on a home, to further education, or to invest in a reliable vehicle. The benefits of higher earnings by families would also accrue to housing authorities in the form of higher rent payments. The authors, Jeffrey Lubell of the Center for Housing Policy and Reid Cramer of the New America Foundation, cite the success of HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, in which 1,000 housing authorities currently participate. FSS helps families in public housing and the housing voucher program make progress toward economic security by combining stable affordable housing, case management to help families set goals and overcome barriers to increased work, and an escrow account that grows as families' earnings grow. The authors believe that extending asset building opportunities to all recipients of subsidized housing could both increase families' earnings and pay for itself by increasing rent paid to housing authorities.
HUD Launches New Webpage on Preserving Multifamily Properties
HUD has recently launched a new webpage that provides a wealth of information on preserving multifamily housing. This is a valuable resource that makes available HUD multifamily preservation information all in one place. The site includes information and notices around policies such as Section 202 loans for the elderly, maturing FHA-insured properties and the Mark to Market program, and publications and data on Section 8 renewal and multifamily portfolio datasets.