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Officials: Cities ‘Failing Badly’ in Access to Homeownership

Commentary from city leaders of Minnesota and New York said that all Americans should have access to homeownership, but “we are failing badly” at achieving this ideal, according to insight from City Lab. 

“In Brooklyn and Minneapolis, where we are city council members, skyrocketing prices push families out of the neighborhoods where they’ve lived for years,” the commentary said. “It’s impossible for young people to find a place to rent, much less own. Homelessness is at record levels, and in cities like Detroit, as many as one in five renters face eviction, part of a nationwide eviction epidemic.”

The authors of the piece—Lisa Bender, President of the Minneapolis City Council and Brad Lander, Deputy leader for policy for the New York City Council—are members of Local Progress and last week began a three-day event in Durham, North Carolina, to address housing issues. 

Local Progress is a national network of “progressive elected officials” from cities and other local governments across the country. 

“Seventy years ago, the Housing Act of 1949 set the goal “of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American,” but it has been decades since Washington was of any real help on affordable housing,” the authors wrote.

The commentary adds that the removal of exclusionary zoning and building more housing is necessary to address the “imbalance of supply and demand,” but alone will  not solve for displacement and eviction. 

A report by the Los Angeles Times reveals that single-family zoning in California will soon be a thing of the past, as legislation is making it easier for homeowners to convert garages into residential spaces and freestanding homes. 

“We’re on the precipice of single-family zoning functionally not existing,” said Ben Metcalf, former Director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

Durham, North Carolina, in September amended ordinances for higher density, “undoing decades-old vestigaes” of discrimination that have prevented African-Americans from owning homes. 

The ordinance, known as “Expanding Housing Choices,” amends zoning rules in areas near downtown to allow for higher density. City and county planners believe this could stabilize home prices as the market grows. 

Oregon’s HB 2001 went into effect on August 8, and mandates that cities with a population of more than or equal to 25,000 to allow middle-housing types on lots previously earmarked for the development of detached single-family housing. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.

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