Throughout the week, the BPC Housing Commission highlights news items that address critical developments in housing policy. Any views expressed in the content posted on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Commission, its co-chairs or the Bipartisan Policy Center.
What We’re Reading posts include a compilation of useful links in the Housing Visualized section below. These resources offer the latest economic indicators, expert insight, and statistical trends related to the U.S. housing market.
By Emily Badger
“Neighborhoods with a mix of residences, offices and retail outlets are now conventionally thought to have a host of benefits, a departure in thinking from the years of urban planning when cities sought to segregate uses of land, with the houses in one corner of town and the shopping district in another. Mixed-use neighborhoods enable people to walk more, with downstream health benefits. They help cut down on traffic congestion, and therefore pollution. For many people, they create livelier communities and a higher quality of life.” Read more here.
By Christina Mlynski
“Since the FHA mortgage space is continuing to decline while private MI is slowly increasing, the FHA can direct its attention toward less creditworthy households that currently have limited access to credit, widening mortgage availability, Stelmach explained.” Read more here.
By Les Christie
“Since the housing bubble burst, 4.8 million borrowers have lost their homes to foreclosure, and another 2.2 million gave them up in short sales, according to RealtyTrac. While many are still struggling to recover financially, a growing number are starting to bounce back — and they are looking for a new place to call home.” Read more here.
By Margaret Chadbourn
“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Monday said it plans to shut its doors for a total of seven days between May and September due to budget cuts and will furlough more than 9,000 employees on those days.” Read more here.
By Al Yoon
Wall Street Journal
“Banks are expected to ramp up participation in the market that topped out at about $5 billion last year, a pittance compared with the more than $1 trillion issued in 2006. But getting rating firms to agree with efforts to craft reps and warrants that offer them some legal cover has been tough, said Liam Sargent, J.P. Morgan’s global head of asset-backed and non-agency mortgage trading and syndication, and head of capital markets for Chase Home Finance.” Read more here.
By Eric Jaffe
“Simply put, Jacobs felt one-size-fits-all planners often failed to recognize that “healthy cities are organic, spontaneous, messy, complex systems,” writes Duke sociologist Katherine King in an upcoming issue of the journal Urban Studies. This preference for gradual (as opposed to grand) redevelopment carries a number of possible social implications — a chief one being that it should promote stronger community relationships.” Read more here.
By Christina Mlynski
“The QM rule, which is for the most part finalized, defines abusive lending practices and offers legal protections to lenders issuing loans without high fees and other risky assets. The impending qualified residential mortgage standard is a potential subset of the QM rule, with QM linking both together. ” Read more here.
By Kenneth R. Harney
Los Angeles Times
“Although single-family rental homes have long been a part of the American housing scene, the involvement of large-scale institutional investors is causing the category to explode. According to a new study conducted by pollster ORC International for Premier Property Management Group, a company that works with investors, roughly 52% of rental units in the country are now single-family homes and house 27% of renters.” Read more here.
By Alex Kowalski
“Household wealth is approaching its pre-recession level as the recovery in home values helps Americans overcome higher taxes Congress put in place this year. Federal Reserve policy makers’ plans to keep lending rates low may continue to shore up finances, giving consumers the confidence to keep buying big- ticket items including cars and homes.” Read more here.
By David Dayden
The New Republic
“It’s clear why people are so excited: Housing typically leads economic recoveries. As more people build equity in their homes, they feel more free to spend disposable income and increase economic activity, a phenomenon known as the “wealth effect.” So a bullish outlook for housing would seemingly augur a long-awaited recovery to Main Street. But the more you look into it, the clearer it becomes that it’s not being driven by the typical American families who lost their homes in the economic crash. In fact, it’s being fueled by the banks and hedge funds whose speculation caused that crash in the first place.” Read more here.
By Jessica Garrison
Los Angeles Times
“In the last year, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles has begun an effort to transform Jordan that could cost more than $600 million. The plan is to turn the complex of 700 aging units into a mixed-income community of up to 1,400 apartments and condominiums, with shops and restaurants and fancy touches such as native plant gardens. The city hopes to draw in hundreds of more-affluent residents willing to pay market rate to live side by side with the city’s poorest.” Read more here.
By Emily Badger
“But for all of the compelling details of how this ad hoc community had created its own social structure, what stands out most about this story is its setting. For a variety of reasons, the homeless often wind up living amid transportation infrastructure: rest areas, roadside rights-of-way, the underside of highway bridges, train stations or even moving train cars or buses.” Read more here.