September 14, 2011
PASADENA STAR-NEWS: WISH program helps first-time buyers get a home
By Kevin Smith // There was a time when the gap between renting an apartment and being able to buy a home looked as vast as the Grand Canyon. Many renters figured they'd never be in a position to purchase a house. But in the current housing downturn prices have fallen dramatically, and so have interest rates. As a result, renting a two- or three-bedroom apartment in Southern California will now cost you about the same each month as buying an affordable home. …
U.C. BERKELEY NEWS CENTER: With streamlined regulations, in-law units could boost East Bay affordable housing stock and economy, study finds
By Kathleen Maclay [9/13/11] // Streamlined regulations are needed to pave the way for homeowners interested in building in-law/secondary units on their property around five Berkeley, Oakland and El Cerrito BART stations and in nearby flatlands, according to a University of California, Berkeley, feasibility study. … In-law units could accommodate a small, but significant, share of the region’s expected population growth, while providing affordable housing and boosting the local economy, according to Karen Chapple…
Report: YES IN MY BACKYARD (September 2011)
LAND USE / PLANNING / REGULATION
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: S.F. agency to pay Chinatown group in subway deal
By Phillip Matier & Andrew Ross // As part of the Central Subway deal, San Francisco's cash-strapped Municipal Transportation Agency will give $8 million to the politically connected Chinatown Community Development Corp. to help build an apartment complex. The agreement, which is sitting on Mayor Ed Lee's desk, is part of an $11.6 million package of local and federal funds to relocate 56 residents of low-income housing on the 900 block of Stockton Street that will be demolished to make room for the Chinatown subway station. …
HOUSING MARKETS / REAL ESTATE
LOS ANGELES TIMES: So Cal home sales rose in August but prices declined
By Alejandro Lazo // Southern California’s housing market showed some signs of life in August, with sales increasing (though that was mostly because of the calendar), but prices continued to fall. Sales were up 8.6% from the month before and 6.0% from August 2010 with a total of 19,654 properties selling across the six-county Southland in August, according to DataQuick of San Diego. The jump in sales was driven by the fact that the month had more business days than are typical for an August, the real estate information firm reported.
DATAQUICK NEWS: Southland August Home Sales Climb, Median Price Falls Again
La Jolla, CA // Southern California home sales rose last month above the July and year-earlier level, the result of seasonal forces, a relatively high number of business days this August and continued robust bottom-feeding. Prices appeared to be trending sideways to downward, with the region’s overall median sale price dipping below a year earlier for the sixth consecutive month, a real estate information service reported. A total of 19,654 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in August. That was up 8.6 percent …
MORTGAGE & FORECLOSURE ISSUES
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Many underwater homeowners hampered by high interest rates
By Alejandro Lazo // The vast majority of Americans with mortgages worth more than their homes are also stuck with high-interest-rate loans, putting them in precarious financial situations, according to data released Tuesday. A total of 10.9 million homes with a mortgage were in a negative equity position at the end of the second quarter, constituting 22.5% of all residential properties with a mortgage, according to Santa Ana research firm CoreLogic. That was only a slight decline from 22.7% during the first three months of the year. …
VENTURA COUNTY STAR: Nearly quarter of county homeowners owe more than their homes are worth
By Jim McLain [9/13/11] // About 41,590 Ventura County homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth in the second quarter, an "underwater" share slightly above the national average but well below California's percentage, a real estate analytics firm said Tuesday. The analysis indicated 24.1 percent of local homeowners with mortgages were upside-down on their loans between April and June. An additional 4.8 percent, or 8,326 homeowners, were in "near negative equity," meaning their homes were worth at most 5 percent more than they owed. …
FRESNO BUSINESS JOURNAL: Sanger gets $540K grant for home program
[9/13/11] // The City of Sanger will continue to help put people in new homes with a $540,000 extension on its BEGIN homebuyer grant. The new infusion from the California Department of Housing & Community Development will allow the city to continue offering low-interest loans until June 30, 2012 to first-time homebuyers in the Monterey Homes subdivision at 10th and K Street. The city's BEGIN program kicked off in 2006 with $450,000 in down payment assistance for low- to moderate-income homebuyers in the subdivision. …
KSEE24.COM: Sanger Granted Extension in Down Payment Assistance Program
[Sept. 13, 2011 Press Release] // The California Department of Housing & Community Development has notified Sanger that its 1st-time home buyer grant has been extended to June 30, 2012. This grant extension makes $540,000.00 in down payment assistance funds available for buyers of new homes in the Monterey Homes subdivision at 10th and K Street in Sanger. …
ECONOMY / EMPLOYMENT
CONTRA COSTA TIMES: Young people hit hard as U.S. poverty rate increases to 15.1 percent
By Matt O’Brien // Joblessness pushed an additional 2.6 million people into poverty last year as 15.1 percent of Americans and 16.3 percent of Californians were living under the poverty line -- the highest rate since 1993, according to 2010 U.S. census statistics released Tuesday. "I never thought it was going to be this bad," said Celina Lopez, a single mother of two young children who has moved in with her grandmother in El Sobrante. "My situation is pretty scary, in terms of housing, kids and being able to provide for them. I didn't think it would be this hard to find a job." …
FORBES.COM: U.S. Consumers Have Miserable Outlook on Housing and Growth, With Good Reason
By Steve Schaefer [9/12/11] // …For three straight months, the consumers surveyed by the government-sponsored mortgage firm have expected home prices to decline over the next 12 months, most recently by a margin of 0.5%, compared to 0.3% in July. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed (69%) say it is a good time to buy a home. That seems incongruous, but with affordability at record levels and mortgage rates at enticing lows the logic holds.
SACRAMENTO BEE: Job plan would aid high-speed rail, other California programs
By Michael Doyle [9/13/11] // The Obama administration on Monday rolled out its specific American Jobs Act, a 155-page wish list that includes $4 billion for high-speed rail. The proposed legislation states that at least 85 percent of the funds "shall be for cooperative agreements that lead to the development of entire segments or phases of intercity or high-speed rail corridors." In theory, this could benefit California …
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: S.F. taking small steps to unclog Market Street
By Rachel Gordon // Market Street has been a favorite target for city officials to try to limit private automobiles. For years, there were discussions about an outright ban, but that gave way to business concerns. … San Francisco transportation chief Ed Reiskin said Tuesday there's "an eagerness to move forward" with more experiments to make Market Street more in sync with the city's Transit First policy, which favors transit, biking and walking over the private automobile.
REDEVELOPMENT / INFILL / REVITALIZATION
VENTURA COUNTY STAR: Thousand Oaks votes to keep redevelopment agency
By Theresa Rochester // The Thousand Oaks City Council agreed Tuesday night to turn over $5.1 million in payments to the state to keep its redevelopment agency in business, but not before calling it ransom and extortion. … At Tuesday night's meeting, Rick Schroeder, who heads affordable housing provider Many Mansions, urged the council to vote for the payments. "The redevelopment agency is essential for the development of new affordable housing," he said. Thousand Oaks' agency has helped fund $17 million in projects since 1998, which translates into 326 units of affordable housing.
GLOBE ST.COM: AREA Pays $60M for 422-Unit Portfolio
By Natalie Dolce // SAN FRANCISCO-AREA Property Partners has acquired a 422-unit multifamily portfolio here for $59.6 million. “Plans for the properties include AREA’s proven strategy of revitalization, rehabilitation and repositioning of this formerly distressed portfolio,” says AREA partner James H. Simmons. … “We are committed to providing safe and reasonably-priced work force housing for local families,” Simmons says. “This acquisition fits squarely within our strategy of investing in and creating high-quality living alternatives in major metropolitan cities with significant demand for quality affordable housing.”
SAN DIEGO READER: Affordable Housing Project Delayed by CA Supreme Court
By David Batterson // …The parking lot project includes revenue sharing between the parking operator and the Redevelopment Agency. The parking lot would remain until a planned low-income apartment complex (“Atmosphere”) begins construction. The affordable-housing developer, Wakeland Housing & Development Corporation, has, according to Graham, “taken the proposed project through the design-review process but staff is unable to [proceed] under the current Supreme Court stay order."
POPULATION / CENSUS
SACRAMENTO BEE: California's poverty rate highest in more than a decade
By Phillip Reese // California's poor now outnumber the populations of 33 states and 90 nations – and counting. The state's poverty rate last year rose to its highest level in more than a decade – 16.3 percent – as household incomes plunged by 5 percent, according to census figures released Tuesday. The state lost ground much faster than the rest of the nation, which saw a roughly 2 percent decline in household income …
LOS ANGELES TIMES: California poverty rate rises in 2010 for fourth year in a row
By Alana Semuels & Duke Helfand // The number of Californians living in poverty grew for the fourth straight year in 2010, more evidence that continued high unemployment and a struggling economy are weighing on the state's families. About 6 million Californians had incomes below the federal poverty line of $22,113 for a family of four in 2010, census data released Tuesday show. …
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SUN: Number in poverty sets record as income, health coverage fall
By Wes Woods II [9/13/11] // …Although the economic recovery officially began in June 2009, 46.2 million people had annual earnings below the poverty line last year, up from 43.6 million the previous year. That's the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. California's poverty rate jumped to its highest level in 13 years during 2010, and state household income dropped by almost 5 percent. About 16.3 percent of Californians lived in poverty last year, up a full percentage point from the previous year. Unfortunately, all of these figures are no surprise to several people in the region who help people in need.
CENSUS Current Population Report Series (September 2011)
DEMOGRAPHICS / QUALITY OF LIFE
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Census poverty report: In tough times Americans 'double up'
By Deborah Netburn [Opinion] // …It is difficult to precisely assess the impact of doubling up on overall poverty rates. Young adults ages 25 to 34 and living with their parents had an official poverty rate of 8.4%, but if their poverty status was determined using their own income, 45.3% had an income below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65. But one wonders if the doubling-up phenomenon is not all doom and gloom. Perhaps there are some unexpected pleasures that come with living with extended family members? Some would argue it is a return to our tribal roots.
ENVIRONMENT / GREEN BUILDING
FORBES.COM: California's Struggle to Add Solar to New Homes
By Ucilia Wang // California is known for providing generous incentives that have successfully promoted solar energy production. But one program hasn’t been so popular, and it may remain so for some time. The program is called New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), and it aims to encourage homebuilders to install solar electric systems by offering rebates. Since the program’s launch in 2007, just over 12 megawatts were added or approved for installation as of May this year, according to data by the California Energy Commission. …
GREEN BUILDING PRO: Sustainability Defines the Next Generation of Affordable Housing
By Laura Archuleta [Opinion] // More and more, affordable housing developers such as Jamboree Housing are finding that the first two questions city officials ask about our communities are: how much will it cost, and is it sustainable? It’s quite possible that an affordable project that would otherwise be opposed in a community, might find support and ultimate approval if the developer has a compelling sustainability story to tell. Powerful voices and inexorable forces are pushing forward the importance and value of sustainability as a critical element in the development of affordable housing …
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