January 17, 2014

Fate of funding levels for HUD and the Department of Agriculture decided

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Congress passed the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, H.R. 3547, yesterday, answering many questions about the fate of federally funded housing agencies. According to the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), the bill includes $32.8 billion for HUD and $2.4 billion for rural development programs at USDA.
This bill also defines the new criteria that will be used to determine rural eligibility for USDA loans after FY 2014. PHAs, mortgage lenders and community development organizations will want to find out additional details of the bill in NCSHA’s News Update.

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January 15, 2014

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Corporate Entrepreneurs Are at the Heart of Downtown Revitalizations

(RECAP: These days, many cities are getting a lot of help from companies that see great potential in downtowns. In some cases, private-sector actors are reshaping central cities in ways local governments no longer have the ability to do themselves.)

Raise value, avert risk, focus on form

(RECAP: Form-based planning facilitates design that uses transitions to integrate a range of housing types into the neighborhood fabric. This enables the entitlement process to focus on the enduring structure of a neighborhood rather than, for example, whether or not there should be “apartments.”)

Nonprofit leaders can apply now for the Achieving Excellence program

(RECAP: NeighborWorks America is accepting applications from nonprofit executives for Achieving Excellence, an 18-month intensive program where leaders tackle individual business challenges that when met will position their organizations to thrive and better serve their communities. Applications are due by March 26, 2014.)

Federal Involvement in Real Estate: A Call for Action

(RECAP: Federal real estate programs haven’t kept pace with the evolving real estate market, nor do they pursue of a coherent set of policy goals. Proposed reforms could save the federal government an estimated $33 billion per year while updating outdated programs to achieve better outcomes for households, communities and taxpayers.)

Who Funds Capacity Building?

(RECAP: Resources can come in different forms, some of which may be financial, but not all. There are also valuable non-financial capacity building efforts that funders can undertake to assist nonprofits.)

January 8, 2014

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

The business case for compact cities and towns

(RECAP: Innovation and access to good employees -- two reasons why businesses are choosing to locate in walkable downtowns and towns centers.)

The Quest to Create Standards for Affordable Homeownership

(RECAP: The goal of developing “Stewardship Standards” is to gain insights into best practices that affordable homeownership programs are undertaking across the country and translate those insights into standards.)

Street Furniture for ‘Sitable’ Cities 

(RECAP: Street furniture is a broad term that encompasses everything from benches to traffic signals, and you’ve likely encountered many examples without even realizing it.) 

Breaking Down the Barriers to Affordable Housing

(RECAP: Cities and towns that thrive are those with a good balance of owners and renters. By addressing financial and regulatory barriers, cities may be able to reverse the affordable housing shortfall in time for the surge of Millennials.)

The Health Risks of Small Apartments

(RECAP: As New York City’s “micro-apartment” project inches closer to reality, experts warn that micro-living may not be the urban panacea we’ve been waiting for. For some residents, the potential health risks and crowding challenges might outweigh the benefits of affordable housing.)

January 2, 2014

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

One Loudoun honored with housing award

(RECAP: The National Association of Home Builders has announced that One Loudoun, designed as a self-contained town, is one of five honorees chosen from across the U.S, to receive Silver Awards in the category of Master-planned Community of the Year.)

What Tech Hasn’t Learned From Urban Planning

(RECAP: The tech sector is, increasingly, embracing the language of urban planning — town hall, public square, civic hackathons, community engagement. So why are tech companies such bad urbanists?)

Building high to qualify

(RECAP: Medium-rise residential would often be more appropriate, but little-known federal regulations have restricted this type of development for decades.)

Here’s How CDCs can Overcome the People-Based, Place-Based Gap

(RECAP: Community-based entities are uniquely positioned to nurture constituencies to act collectively within our societal and civic participation structures. So why does it take a disaster to bring us back to the basics of the CDC movement, with an appreciation to the principles of well-organized communities?)

Creating a Global Geography of Wheelchair Accessibility

(RECAP: Having data on wheelchair accessibility freely available and already tied to maps opens up all sorts of possibilities, like creating apps that plan out wheelchair routes in the same way others plan out bike routes.)

What Planning Will Do

(RECAP: Planning can’t predict the future but it can reliably point to the possibilities. To think about the future (near and far), and how to make it better, may be the most valuable thing that planning will do for us all.)