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Support Middle Neighborhoods with a Federal Investment in Home Rehab

By Julia Gordon & Theo Chang

Neither rich nor poor. Neither gentrifying nor in steep decline. “Middle neighborhoods” have recently captured the attention of community development circles (and are the subject of ongoing coverage in Next City). These neighborhoods, broadly defined as areas with households earning 80 to 120 percent of the area median income, currently face a growing number of challenges. One glaring challenge is age — while homeownership rates are high, houses in middle neighborhoods are often quite old, and residents tend to have fewer resources for upkeep.

We work in a number of cities with many middle neighborhoods, connecting foreclosed homes to community housing organizations that will acquire and properly rehabilitate those homes. For example, in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, more than half of residents live in middle neighborhoods. As is the case in many of the cities along the East Coast, three-quarters of the homes in Baltimore were built before 1960.

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What Product Will Capture Massive Missing-Middle Opportunity? Providing right-priced product for the working class takes diligence.

November 4, 2018 | BUILDER Online

By

The development and delivery of right-sized, right-priced workforce housing is one of the most challenging yet undervalued opportunities for builders and developers today.

This so-called “middle neighborhood” defines a third to half of urban America, representing a wide variety of ethnicities to form some of the most racially and socioeconomically diverse areas in the country, says Paul Brophy, principal at Brophy & Reilly, a community development consulting firm based in Ellicott City, Md., and editor of On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods. In the book, he shares dozens of case studies from policymakers, scholars, and other community development professionals.

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Philly developers say numbers don’t ‘pencil’ out on city’s latest affordable housing scheme

By Jake Blumgart

Ori Feibush may be one of the more controversial developers in Philadelphia, but few would argue about the one-time City Council candidate’s ability to get projects done in the city. Now the man who brought roof decks to Point Breeze is saying that the voluntary development incentives included in a new zoning bill designed to raise money for affordable housing won’t attract the interest needed to make the policy work.

“We found that there wasn’t any project we were looking at where it would work,” said Feibush, who has developed over 1,000 units of new housing in Philadelphia over the last decade. “Our office looks at more than a dozen properties a week, so we have 100 properties we reviewed from the last couple months and we went back to every one of those and it just didn’t pencil.”

That’s a problem because hopes are high for this new voluntary inclusionary zoning bill — now under consideration by the City Council. The legislation would incentivize developers to pay money into Philadelphia’s Housing Trust Fund in exchange for bonuses that allow larger, denser developments than would be otherwise permitted under zoning rules. The bill is projected to bring $18 million to the Housing Trust over the next five years.

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Has urban renewal come at the cost of suburban decline?

June 8, 2018 | The Times-Picayune

By Kevin Litten

The magazine Governing published a report Friday (June 8) that examines the decline and neglect of urban “middle neighborhoods” — the highly diverse pockets of affordable housing where middle-class families have lived for decades.

They are places where people often moved after other urban neighborhoods became too dangerous, and in recent years, more expensive. Forty years ago, these were neighborhoods attractive for having newer housing stock and infrastructure, and they were places where families would know their neighbors — simply because no one had any real cause to move away, according to the report.

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Dwight Evans seeks second term in Congress

April 27, 2018 | The Philadelphia Tribune

By Michael D’Onofrio

Incumbent Dwight Evans said he will rely on a his political record and experience as a longtime politician against a political newcomer in the upcoming Democratic primary.

“Who is most effective and who will get things done?” Evans asked during a recent Philadelphia Tribune editorial board meeting. “I provide the kind of leadership that is necessary to address the issues.”

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New Philadelphia home-repair loan program available to residents in middle neighborhoods

January 18, 2018 | The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Caitlin McCabe

This summer, the city of Philadelphia will launch a $100 million initiative called the “Housing Preservation Loan Program.” Congratulations to Council President Darrell Clarke, as well as Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the Healthy Rowhouse and other housing advocates in the Philadelphia metro area! A feature of Housing Preservation Loan Program (much unlike a housing program implemented in Baltimore that used private lending loan pool) is that it draws from city resources and will provide low-interest loans at a 3% rate to thousands of its middle neighborhood residents with houses in disrepair. Currently, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that “more than 160,000 homes in the Philadelphia metro area experienced roof leaks. Nearly 120,000 had a crumbling foundation. At least 70,000 homes had mold.” And lastly, about 258,000 households reported experiencing many hours of “uncomfortable cold.” The Housing Preservation Loan Program will dole out up to $25,000 per applicant and contribute to other home-repair grant programs to alleviate the city’s housing problems.

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