Report Says Nearly 1500 Unhoused LA Residents Died On the Street During Pandemic
A report published by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy found that at least 1493 unhoused LA residents died on the street between the months of March 2020 and July 2021, according to an analysis of coroner reports. The deaths only count those who died on the street and does not include people who died in a hospital or other setting. Nearly 40 percent were the result of a drug and alcohol overdose.
The report also found an additional 418 people who were likely homeless died in hotels and motels during this period. The report’s collaborators included unhoused residents and it was issued in part as a response to the clearing of the Echo Park homeless encampment in March of 2021, which officials claimed would house residents under Project Roomkey, which converted hotels to homeless housing. But many of those cleared from encampments were simply shifted to a different part of the city, and only four residents cleared from Echo Park have found permanent housing, according to The Guardian.
HUD Clears The Way For Anti-Redlining Lending Programs
A memo issued by HUD secretary Marcia Fudge clears the way for “special purpose credit programs,” targeted homeownership loans intended to improve homeownership rates among communities marginalized by redlining, Housingwire reports. The programs have been legal since 1976, when Congress amended the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which initially forbade targeted credit lending on the basis of race or class in an effort to end redlining and predatory lending. The 1976 amendment made exceptions for special credit programs that benefited communities who have been harmed by prior lending practices. But lenders had claimed for years the law did not provide sufficient clarity on the legality of these programss. The HUD memo essentially removes the excuse of regulatory hurdles and is timed to coincide with billions of dollars in downpayment assistance for first-time homebuyers in the yet to be passed social infrastructure bill.
Maryland County Funds ‘Right of First Refusal’ for Rental Property Sales
Prince George’s County, Maryland, has set aside $15 million of American Rescue Plan funds over three years to support a law that lets the county intervene in multi-unit rental housing sales, WTOP News reports. If a sale of a building with 20 or more more housing units is initiated, the county’s right of first refusal laws give the county the option to purchase the property or select a third party buyer, such as a non-profit. According to WTOP news, the county intervened recently in the case of a 245 unit rental property in Hyattsville, which was instead sold to two housing non-profits which will keep three quarters of the property affordable.
Chicago Will Build or Preserve $1.3 Billion Worth of Affordable Housing
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office announced funding to build or preserve 2400 units of affordable housing in 24 neighborhoods across the city, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. The mayor’s office is calling it the largest single investment in affordable housing in the city’s history. The plan is funded through $567 million in American Rescue Plan funds and $660 million in general obligation bonds, according to Crain’s. The money includes $18.6 million in federal low-income housing tax credits. The city is hoping to build housing in areas of the city with different income levels, following a report that found over a 20 year period tax credits for affordable housing were mostly going to build housing in low-income majority Black areas.
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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.