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Oregon Governor Signs Tenant Protections, Affordable Housing Bills
On July 27, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed a series of bills meant to address the state’s housing crisis, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. The bills include a cap on annual rent increases to either 10% or 7% plus the annual change in the consumer price index, whichever is less. Another bill forces local governments to approve emergency shelters depending on the size of the local homeless population. It also exempts some affordable housing from local planning approval and allows for denser zoning by streamlining requirements for multifamily housing, and rezones some commercial areas for mixed-use development. Another bill bans landlords from evicting tenants after income restrictions lapse and provides the state with a right of first refusal if subsidized housing is sold. And a budget bill signed by the governor provides $2.5 billion to the Housing and Community Services Department, which will go to creating 441 new positions, $55 million in rental assistance, and $6 million to eviction prevention.
Cincinnati May Sell Its Rail Line
Cincinnati voters will decide in November whether the city will sell its rail line to the freight giant Norfolk Southern. The $1.6 billion sale could lead to payments of $50 million a year to the city in perpetuity, twice the $25 million that Norfolk Southern is currently paying to lease the rail line, Governing reports. Cincinnati Southern Railway has been owned by the city for 140 years and is the last interstate rail line owned by a municipality.
The money from a sale would be put into a trust fund and the city would only spend the accrued interest. The mayor, who is pushing for a sale, says it could help with the city’s deferred rail maintenance costs of up to $400 million. Railroad Workers United, a local collective of unions, opposes the sale, which it says undervalues the railway. There are also safety concerns: Over the past year, Norfolk Southern has been in the news for a series of train derailments that workers say were the result of lax safety measures and cost-cutting.
Atlanta Burger King Workers Are Fighting For Relief From Heat
WABE reports that Union of Southern Service Workers members in Atlanta are organizing for protections from the heat, including at a Burger King with a broken air conditioning system. A Burger King employee told WABE that they have to enter the store’s freezer to cool off. The workers have filed an OSHA complaint, but OSHA has no national temperature standards for workers, according to WABE. The Biden administration directed the Department of Labor to distribute information to employees on how to protect workers from heat. According to Climate Central, the average daily temperature in Atlanta has risen by 3 degrees since 1970.
Texas Judge Blocks Rule Requiring Banks To Collect Demographic Data
A federal court in Texas partially blocked a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule requiring lenders to collect demographic data from small businesses, Bloomberg Law reports. The rule is only blocked for members of the Texas Bankers Association and American Bankers Association. The judge has blocked it until the Supreme Court makes a ruling on a separate matter: a lawsuit claiming it is not constitutional for the CFPB to be funded by the Federal Reserve. That Supreme Court ruling is expected next year.
While the injunction was not related to the rule’s fairness, plaintiffs said it was a recognition of the “costs and burdens” of collecting demographic data. The CFPB’s rule is still set to take effect on August 29 for those not covered by the injunction. The CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition told Bloomberg Law that the injunction gave plaintiffs “a right to discriminate in secret” and allows them to “illegally deprive marginalized communities of economic opportunity.”
Chicago Will Fund Energy-Efficient Retrofits For Low-Income Households
Chicago will provide $15 million in grants to low-income residents to help them decarbonize their homes by installing heat pumps and electric stoves, among other measures, Energy News reports. The funding is part of the city’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 62% by 2040. The money will help upgrade between 200 to 350 households over the next two years and will be prioritized for south and west side neighborhoods that have high energy burdens, according to Energy News. A bill in Chicago would also ban gas heating and cooking in new construction, something Chicago developers are already trending away from.
Curated by Deonna Anderson
Here’s what’s been happening after a homeless encampment was cleared in Oakland. New York Times
And in Berkeley, several city agencies are planning to shift away from their aggressive homeless encampment sweeps. San Francisco Public Press
Hawaii is trying to solve its housing crisis, which has fallen hardest on Native Hawaiians. Bloomberg CityLab
New research from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University finds that in places where there are higher eviction fees, renters are less likely to be kicked out. The Center for Public Integrity
Why will it take San Francisco two years to install eight red-light cameras? The San Francisco Standard
Next Wednesday, August 9 at 1 p.m. Eastern, we’re hosting a conversation with Thirdspace Action lab about the central role that health, healing, and repair work has played in equitable community development. Learn more and register here!
Media company GreenBiz is having a day-long event about decarbonizing transportation. August 10. Learn more and register here.
This article is part of The Weekly Wrap, a newsletter rounding up stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice. Click here to subscribe to The Weekly Wrap newsletter.
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.