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Will limited-equity co-ops come back?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
In This Issue: Taking Back the Front Porch ● Could Public Art Stifle Community Conversation? ● How to Build a Case for Community Development and Affordable Housing ● Will Limited-Equity Co-ops Come Back? ● Also: Resources ● You Said It! ● In Case You Missed It ● Jobs ● More
Joyce Fernandes, artist, writer, and cultural worker
There is an iconic image of a front porch that lives in the American imagination—one of shared conversation, observation, and peace. The front porch is in between our private family space and our more public-facing community spaces where we create our own definition of “community.” In many parts of Chicago, this space is often a battleground.

Let me explain this “battleground” with an example of a front porch located near my former office in Chicago. Every day I would walk by a brick apartment building with an open porch typically occupied by 3 or 4 young men, a pit bull, and occasionally an older woman. Even though I passed by hundreds of times, we never surpassed exchanges of brief, nearly indiscernible nods. About a year into this routine, I was walking with an artist colleague to a meeting around the corner, and for the first time, there was a verbal exchange . . .
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Miriam Axel-Lute, Shelterforce
There will be important functions in public space that are not always “art,” whose value is not in proportion to their prettiness. I am reminded of the fights in New York City in the late 1990s to save community gardens on city land that were at risk of development. The ones that were saved were more likely to be the ones that looked more like a pretty garden, completely full of greenery and flowers in well-ordered beds. The ones that prominently featured a less spiffy looking gathering spot, perhaps with bare dirt and folding chairs, were harder to rally broad support for—even though they were serving a crucial function as a gathering place, often for elderly residents.

Places where things are posted, whether official bulletin boards or blank spots on the streets, are not always pretty, but . . .
Lillian M. Ortiz, Shelterforce
Limited-equity co-ops (LECs)—a form of cooperative housing intended to preserve affordability for low- and moderate-income households—aren’t built at the rate at which they were erected in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s when LECs were all the rage in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C. In those days there were more financing options available, including subsidies and below-market interest rates, that allowed developers to secure affordable loans to build LECs.

While the total number of LECs across the nation has certainly dwindled, in recent years there has been what some might call the beginning of a resurgence across the country. What’s leading the renewed interest in this model of resident-controlled, long-term affordable housing?
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Despite tremendous progress and success in our work, we still have not built strong enough political will at the national level to adequately respond to the country’s affordability and community development challenges regardless of which party is in the majority or in the White House. If we are not careful, this could lead to a segmented, narrow defense of each program by different coalitions that could end up working against one another. 

This could come in the form of homeless advocates emphasizing the need for short-term rental assistance over rental-production programs, or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit advocates emphasizing that program’s “efficiency” when compared to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/Department of Agriculture programs, or homeownership advocates arguing that rental housing traps people in low-income communities. I have personally heard these arguments from the mouths of dedicated and well-meaning advocates and practitioners at the local, state, and federal levels.

What we need to do to build a case for all of our affordable housing efforts is . . .
New HUD User Case Studies Posted ● Click here for new case studies based on federal, state, and local strategies that increase affordable housing opportunities and support sustainable community development.
You Said It!

What a load of baloney. Paying rent is not racist. There may be racial disparities in renting versus homeownership, but that doesn’t make paying rent racist. . . . There were times in the past in the U.S. when greater housing opportunities were made available to white families, such as the . . . —Marc Brenman, more

In reply to Marc Brenman:
I would argue that your notion of racism is simplistic. It goes well beyond overt, disparate treatment (which still exists and isn’t confined to the 1930s-1950s as you imply). It includes . . . —Dan Immergluck, more

On When Deep-Income Targeting Doesn’t Hit the Mark

I’ll be circulating this article to our membership and mailing list. Our developers get it, but you articulate it very well for the broader community. —Connie Brown, Affordable Housing Consortium

How about using companies who have projects in the two divergent locations and have them subsidize the extremely low-income off the profit in the other? Something like in NYC (but it's done in the reverse / a harmful way there) where the project is granted... —Chad, more
In Case You Missed It
Executive Assistant to the President
Telesis seeks a dedicated and responsible Executive Assistant to join our Washington, D.C. office. This individual will provide administrative and support services and will have exposure to learning about community development, housing policy, and urban planning while working closely . . . Read Full Listing
Senior Developer
Telesis seeks a Senior Developer with the skills, energy, and experience to lead its work on all aspects of development, housing, and mixed-use projects. The position requires a leader who takes initiative, thinks strategically, favors a collaborative approach to problem solving, and has a sense of humor . . . Read Full Listing
Senior Housing Developer
The person in this role is engaged in activities which lead to the successful completion of affordable housing development contracts and projects, improve client capacity, and meet local community development objectives. The Senior Housing Developer plans, coordinates and manages, leading project teams, supervising . . . Read Full Listing
Housing Developer
The person in this role completes real estate development functions, including taking the lead on affordable housing and community facilities developments. The position requires experience in many aspects of housing development, as well as capacity for good time management, and to be self-motivated and use independent . . . Read Full Listing
More Jobs
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Featured Bloggers
Bob Annibale, Citi ● Laura Barrett, Interfaith Worker Justice ● Murtaza Baxamusa, Sol Price School of Public Policy, USC ● Michael Bodaken, National Housing Trust ● Bill Bynum, HOPE Credit Union ● Steve Dubb, Democracy Collaborative ● Jamaal Green, Portland State University ● John Henneberger, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service ● David Holtzman, newspaper reporter and former planner ● Josh Ishimatsu, National CAPACD ● Rick Jacobus, Street Level Advisors ● Daniel Kravetz, freelance writer ● Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress ● Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity ● Doug Ryan, Prosperity Now ● Josh Silver, NCRC ● James Tracy, San Francisco Community Land Trust ● Eva Wingren, Baltimore Community Foundation