What’s Trending in Housing News?

February 3, 2023

Animal shelter reunites owner with pet after owner became homeless 

Not the least affected by the lack of affordable homes and rising costs for housing are pet owners. In January, a 4-year-old German Shepherd-Great Pyrenees mix named Lilo was found in Chattanooga, TN with a note attached to her collar that read, in part, “My mom can’t keep me and is homeless with 2 kids…I cost too much for her.” A local resident took Lilo to McKamey Animal Center, where through the help of social media shelter staff, they were able to contact Lilo’s owner, guaranteeing a return to her family when a pet-friendly home became available to them. The shelter’s director of advancement Lauren Mann said cases like Lilo’s are increasing as affordable housing and rising costs price folks out of pet fees and other pet-related expenses. Mann estimated the shelter took in almost 5,000 animals with similar circumstances in 2022. (Washington Post) 

Libraries meet needs and confront challenges of unhoused community in providing refuge 

Unhoused people have recently found refuge in libraries across the US. As one of few locations open to the public with relatively little restrictions, libraries offer those experiencing homelessness with restrooms, a climate-controlled environment, and a place to avoid the police or others who might harass them. In places like Las Vegas-Clark County, the library district even provides hygiene kits, while libraries in other cities like Chicago and Salt Lake City also aid in connecting unhoused people with resources. The new embrace has come with challenges in other places, however, where library staff feel unequipped or lack the training to address individual cases of conflict that sometimes stem from issues of mental health or substance abuse.  (The Guardian) 

Average US renters are now considered rent-burdened, according to recent report 

For the first time, the average renter in the US is now rent-burdened. According to a recent report from Moody’s Analytics, at least 30 percent of the median US income is required to pay the average rent. Measured by rent-to-income ratio that calculates the national median household income with the average monthly rent, some of the worst rent-burdened cities include New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles, where ratios are 68.5%, 41.6%, 36.7%, and 35.6% respectively. (New York Times) 

Philadelphia adds new zip codes to its Right to Counsel initiative as city expands initiative  

After beginning its pilot program in February 2022, the city of Philadelphia is now expanding its Right to Counsel initiative. Available to low-income tenants facing eviction, the city is extending access to lawyers free of charge across two additional zip codes for those at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Those eligible will have access to legal aid for eviction, lease terminations, as well as terminations Philadelphia Authority housing subsidies. In 2022, 38% of tenants in the zip codes included in the pilot program received counsel in municipal court. (Philadelphia Inquirer) 

Federal government to take steps toward ‘renter’s bill of rights’ 

The Biden administration recently announced plans to further protect renters and curb rent hikes through what it describes as a “Blueprint for a Renter’s Bill of Rights”. According to the White House, approximately 35% of the US population lives in rental housing, and the new focus will look for the Federal Housing Finance Agency to limit what it calls “egregious rent increases” at properties receiving federal-backing. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, will also look at requiring 30 days’ notice if property owners plan to terminate a lease due to nonpayment. Advocates like Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, lauded the significance of the administration’s willingness to endorse a renter’s bill of rights. (CNBC) 

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