More efficient use of federal funds to create affordable housing
Promoting affordable housing means just that. It can mean new money. It can also mean encouraging the removal of obstacles to its creation. Cities with restrictive zoning, where tax assessors are onerous, who refuse to get sufficient affordable housing, should be penalized on a sliding scale, with the worst offenders getting no federal funds at all for housing, CDBG, and so on. The federal government has been subsidizing inefficient city governments for far too long, and they will never change without strong incentives.
Six Sigma commented
I look at the book Three Cups of Tea, where one man, with inadequate funds, has built more schools than several governments. I ask myself, how can HUD staff be like Mortensen? Getting maximum bang for the buck? Incorporating local resources to the max, as he does? That book should be required reading, from the library, for ALL HUD STAFF. We hear all kinds of management terms from the 10th floor. Business Process Reeingineering, for example. Except that those people don't understand the process, as a rule. It is fascinating to see them asking the field, and clients, for input, they never used to. In systems, ALL disease, all problems, are the direct result of blockage. Clear the blockage, and the flow heals. With human systems, flow is communication- and acting on feedback. That is the basis of all Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, and all the others. This agency mostly does not act on feedback, unless the IG or GAO is providing it. That is breakdown maintenance, it is not preventive maintenance. The Strategic Plan should have at least 30 Business Processes related to HUD's long term goals, with a full description- based on what really happens- and then areas for suggestions of improvement. This forum is great, as a first step. If HUD is really serious about the 5 goals cited here, it is more than simply collecting ideas. Some sequence of how to implement is important. Many inner city churches, for example, are excited about getting government funds. However, many do not have the capacity to handle them, or account for them. Capacity is more important than the funds. Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you feed his family for a lifetime. We pass out far too many fish, and do almost no teaching. This is stupid at best, no wonder people are angry. The very first step would be collecting Best Practices- as a story of the entire operation of the outfit, and also as segments that can be copied. Even this first step is not occurring, not much.
Amplifying this idea: One route to creating old-fashioned neighborhoods
What makes cohousing communities unique
The cohousing idea originated in Denmark, and was promoted in the U.S. by architects Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett in the early 1980s. The Danish concept of “living community” has spread quickly. Worldwide, there are now hundreds of cohousing communities, expanding from Denmark into the U.S, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and elsewhere.
In a cohousing community, you know who lives six houses down because you eat common meals with them, decide how to allocate homeowners dues and gratefully accept a ride from them when your car’s in the shop. You begin to trust them enough to leave your 4-year-old with them. You listen to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree with them at first, and you sense that you, too, are being heard.
Cohousing residents generally aspire to “improve the world, one neighborhood at a time.” This desire to make a difference often becomes a stated mission, as the websites of many communities demonstrate. For example, at Sunward Cohousing near Ann Arbor, MI, the goal is to create a place “where lives are simplified, the earth is respected, diversity is welcomed, children play together in safety, and living in community with neighbors comes naturally.” At Winslow Cohousing near Seattle, the aim is to have “a minimal impact on the earth and create a place in which all residents are equally valued as part of the community.” At EcoVillage at Ithaca, NY, the site of two adjoining cohousing neighborhoods, the goal is “to explore and model innovative approaches to ecological and social sustainability.”
Many other communities have visions that focus specifically on the value of building community. Sonora Cohousing in Tucson, AZ, seeks “a diversity of backgrounds, ages and opinions, with our one shared value being the commitment to working out our problems and finding consensus solutions that satisfy all members.” Tierra Nueva Cohousing in Oceano, CA, exists “because each of us desires a greater sense of community, as well as strong interaction with and support from our neighbors.”
For more on "What is Cohousing," see the widely quoted Six Defining Characteristics of Cohousing.
I understand the sentiment, however I don't know that penalizing cities by withdrawing funds is the best way to go. I think this would exacerbate the situation in these jurisdictions, as low-income housing is what would really suffer here without HUD funding, and the jursidictions would have little incentive to promote affordable housing. Instead, maybe HUD should consider incentivizing the creation of affordable housing by rewarding jursidictions who are make positive efforts to increase their supply of affordable housing.
The shortage of housing that is affordable for the lowest-income families grew significantly between 2007 and 2008, according to a new analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey data.
National Low Income Housing Coalition research showed that in 2007, the shortage of homes affordable for extremely low-income renters (those earning 30 percent or less of their area median income) was 2.7 million, compared to 3.1 million in 2008. The coalition expects the shortage to be worse for 2009 and 2010 due to increases in unemployment and the resulting loss of household income.
“In the array of subsidies and bailouts that Congress and the administration have given out in an attempt to repair the economy in the last year, more than $1.1 trillion has gone to the housing sector through foreclosure mitigation programs, tax credits for homebuyers and cash infusions to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” housing coalition President Sheila Crowley said in a statement. “Not one dollar has been devoted just to addressing the shortage of rental housing for extremely low-income families,” she said.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition and housing advocates are calling on Congress to put at least $1 billion in the National Housing Trust Fund before the end of the year to support the immediate construction of rental homes.