Federal Report on Housing, Transportation and Economic Growth

report coverRCAP Solutions staff provided Technical Assistance to one of these projects in Washington County, Maine through a small national sub-agreement. These types of collaboration efforts reduce duplication of services.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 7, 2014

Federal Report Highlights Five Years of Progress Providing Communities with Affordable Housing, Efficient Transportation and Economic Growth

WASHINGTON – In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released “Five Years of Learning from Communities and Coordinating Federal Investments,” a report demonstrating how the three agencies are cooperating to help communities provide more housing choices, make transportation systems more efficient and reliable, and create vibrant neighborhoods that attract business development and jobs while protecting the environment.

“The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is about achieving one goal: expanding opportunity for American families,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These targeted investments are bringing more affordable housing and transportation options, and more economic resilience to regions that were hard hit by the economic crisis. In partnership with local leaders, I am convinced that the investments our agencies have made will enhance the health and wealth of communities for decades to come.”

“The Partnership is helping us align our transportation investments with the goals of providing affordable housing and preserving the environment,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Together with HUD and EPA, we are making fundamental changes in how we work together to benefit all Americans and provide new ladders of opportunity for many.”
“Communities know better than anyone else what they need,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, we at the federal level are organizing ourselves to give communities tools to address economic and environmental challenges in the way that works best for them.”

Since 2009, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities has been working to ensure that HUD, DOT, EPA and other federal agency investments better serve communities that were hard hit by the economic recession. Through its efforts, more than $4 billion has been awarded to 1,000 communities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. In addition to funding, many communities have also received technical assistance to help plan economic development and leverage private and other public resources to maximize the Partnership’s investments. For example:

  • Partnership-funded regional planning efforts in New York and New Jersey laid a strong foundation for recovery from Superstorm Sandy because communities in the region had already been collaborating on development issues.
  • Partnership grants helped Memphis, Tenn., create a master plan for redeveloping the area around its airport, as well as develop a plan to improve bike and pedestrian paths and spur revitalization in a midtown neighborhood.
  • Partnership funding helped the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota develop a regional plan to define the community’s future. It could be a model for other rural Native American communities as well.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities has also fundamentally changed the way that HUD, EPA and DOT evaluate and award competitive grants and technical assistance. The three agencies collaborate to review and select applications for many grants and technical assistance opportunities, such as DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants, HUD’s Community Challenge Grants, and EPA’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grants. This collaboration ensures that federal investments maximize resources for communities.

To download the report: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/partnership-accomplishments-report-2014.pdf

The State of Homelessness in America 2014

 

State of Homelessness

The State of Homelessness in America 2014 is the fourth in a series of reports that chart progress in ending homelessness in the United States.

It examines trends in homeless between 2012 and 20 13, trends in populations at-risk of homelessness from 2011 to 2012, trends in assistance available to persons experiencing homelessness, and es tablishes a baseline fr om which to measure  changes in the homeless assistance system enacted by the Homeless  Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act.

This report is intended to be a desk top reference for policymakers, journalists, and community and state leaders.

Chapter 1 presents national and state trends in homeless populations.

Chapter 2 examines trends in populations at-risk of homelessness.

Chapter 3 analyzes beds available to homeless persons and usage of those resources, and establishes a baseline from which to examine shifts from transitional housing t o rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing.

This report uses the most recently available data from a variety of sources: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Census Bureau, and the U .S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Report Highlights: 

On a single night in January 20 13,610,042 people were experiencing homelessness. From 2012 to 2013, a period of continued slow recovery from the Great Recession, overall homelessness decreased by 3.7 percent and homelessness decreased among every major subpopulation—families (7 percent), chronically homeless individuals (7.3 percent), and veterans (7.3 percent).

But nationwide trends do not t ell the full story:
• 31 states saw a decrease in homelessness, while 20 states saw increases in overall homelessness.
• The national rate of homelessness fell to 19 homeless persons per 10 ,000 people in the general population, but the r ate in individual states ranged from 106 in Washington, DC  to 8 in Mississippi.
• The rate of veteran homelessness fell to 27 homeless veterans per 10,000 veterans in the general population, but the rate in individual states ranged from 28 in Wyoming to 156 in Washington, DC.

You may download the full report by clicking here: State of Homelessness 2014

Now Renting One Bedroom & Studio Apartments

Settle into your new home!

RCAP Solutions is now renting studio & one bedroom apartments!

HubbardstonHouse1Brochure-P

Hubbardston House

Hubbardston House Apartments - 1 Old Princeton Road Cut-Off, Hubbardston, Ma (click link for brochure)

Bolton Country Manor - 600 Main Street, Bolton, Ma (click link for brochure)

BoltonCountryManor-Brochure

Bolton Country Manor

Beautiful, spacious Studio & One Bedroom Apartments for Adults 62 years and over or mobility impaired (in Hubbardston House only) that meet HUD eligibility income guidelines.

Rents are based on 30% of adjusted gross income, if eligible.  Newly remodeled with modern appliances and carpeting.  On-site laundry facilities, emergency call system, community room, on call maintenance and parking on site.  Small pets are welcome.

For more information call: 

Hubbardston House:  (978) 928-5922

Bolton Country Manor: (978) 779-5007

TTY: (978) 630-6754

Property Applications can be found here:  http://www.rcapsolutions.org/rcap-property-applications/

Practical Implementation of CUPSS R&R Schedule (Not your Dad’s Rest and Relaxation)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArthur Astarita, Maine State Lead 

RCAP Solutions’ experience has shown that developed, small-sized systems (<3300 connections), have a wide-range of documenting capital improvements.  Typically a written sheet is developed showing a list of improvements including costs and is used to plan proposed upgrades.  This “mental list” is generated and updated when events arise that call for a new suggestion or thought but does not contain a comprehensive look at the entire system and financial health.  It is not holistic which is required to assure the system is operated in a long term and responsible manner.

More often is the case that only when equipment fails are capital improvement projects created to address the urgency rather than a planned approach.  Commonly, an engineering firm scopes out this “reactionary” project through the required preliminary engineering report (PER).  The engineering firm usually has a working relationship with the system and retains the “technical knowledge” but the firm does not usually conduct streaming-asset-performance analysis.  In today’s sustainability world, in order for the system to remain solvent and meet regulatory requirements, they must have the tools to document predicted equipment failure, replacement cost estimates and impacts to consumer rates.  Regular system maintenance and observations are necessary for this streaming performance analysis, replacement prediction and financial planning.

The free EPA CUPSS program (www.epa.gov/cupss) affords systems a one-stop shop to document inventory attributes, critical maintenance tasks, revenue/expense finances, mission statements, level of services, system service details along with history and report outputs for analysis.  Supported nationwide, it can become the common, simple routine for all systems to report in standard format.  This standard reporting can lead to building local and regional expertise in a “utility-helping-utility” network, generate detailed grass-roots funding gaps and impress our congressional leaders of their constituents’ needs.

Commonly, operators/superintendents have an ease using CUPSS’ import template; an Excel spreadsheet.  The user can easily copy/paste data from existing records and GIS tables. Conversely, the unique CUPSS output data can join by digitally-indexing to existing record columns and GIS tables. This flexibility allows data capture and enhancement without being repetitive. Technical assistance can be smoothly facilitated by the email exchange of the spreadsheet(s) and phone discussions prior to a site visit for report-output analysis.

Upon completion of the inventory component of the software, CUPSS generates a repair/replacement (R&R) cost schedule.  Here costs for items can be grouped by decade or by logical project task(s).  This report is perhaps the most important and critical step in reaching effective utility management.  This report allows for initial priority and emphasis of improvements along with the cost of those upgrades or maintenance activities.  This R&R cost schedule allows this critical information to be shared in a concise and organized manner with decision makers overseeing the system.

Another aspect of this program and process is that attention may be given to the maintenance budget within CUPSS. By documenting schedule and non-scheduled maintenance costs of critical equipment, a system can understand the funds needed to extend useful life expectancies.  This can reduce budget impacts of capital needed for replacement budgets.

With or without the use of CUPPS it is important to note that systems must provide proper managerial and technical expertise to insure public health.  True sustainability can be approached with the inclusion of an operations and maintenance budget. The creation of and funding in four major reserve accounts is paramount:

  1. Debt Service: 100% funded
  2. Emergency O&M: capped at ~25% of your operations budget
  3. Short-term Assets: All assets <15 year lifespan should be expensed
  4. Long-term Assets: Capital budget schedule and x% of value should be set aside annually

It is the long-term Asset reserve that is financially critical.  As governmental subsidies decline, it is increasingly becoming apparent that utilities must develop a holistic business plan approach which focuses on asset management in order to operate the system in a sustainable manner.

Understanding the Challenges and Solutions to Aging in Place

001_seniorsThe following is from a featured article in PD&R EDGE NEWS, an online publication from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development:

Over the next 40 years, the population of Americans over age 65 is expected to double from 40 to 80 million, and the population over age 85 is expected to more than triple from 6 to 20 million. Complicating these demographic trends is the desire of most elderly Americans to “age in place,” or stay in their own homes and communities as they age. On January 9, 2013, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research convened a panel of experts to discuss these looming demographic changes, their implications for American society, and models that enable elderly Americans to access the services necessary to successfully age in place.

An important context for the discussion was provided by panelist and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, who, like many Americans, approaches the subject through the lens of his own experiences with his parents. “My mother is 89 years old and lives in the home she and my dad bought 2 years before I was born,” said Cisneros. After some time spent in a nursing facility, his mother’s return home was accompanied by an “almost a palpable expression of peace and joy as she walked through the house.” For most Americans, the prospect of aging in place is not an esoteric policy discussion; instead, it strikes an intensely personal chord, touching on life, death, and the importance of family. Given the visceral connection most of us have to our homes and communities, institutions at the local, state, and the federal levels must tackle the challenges of our nation’s aging population and develop solutions that permit people to comfortably age in place.

Obstacles to Aging in Place

Although most Americans want to age in place, the reality, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services senior policy analyst James Toews, is that too many individuals enter long-term care institutions unnecessarily or prematurely. Homes and communities frequently are not designed to address the needs of seniors. Many seniors need assistance performing activities of daily living and live in environments that do not accommodate their functional limitations.

Following a catastrophic health event, 25 percent of elderly Americans who temporarily enter a nursing home will find it too difficult to leave. Toews identifies caregiver burnout as one of the primary barriers to aging at home — in the United States, family members provide about 85 percent of all caregiving. These family members may be unable or ill-equipped to provide the complex medical procedures their elderly relatives need, and the medical community offers them little support. In fact, this lack of support is a more significant factor in caregiver burnout than the complexity of the procedures.

RCAP Solutions provides a comprehensive array of elder service programs which can assist our aging population and those who are disabled.  Our Home Modification Loan Program provides financing to disabled persons and their families, enabling individuals to remain independent and make structural improvements affecting the safety of individuals and caregivers.  For more information, please click here.

To see the entire article please click here.

 

Families Living Doubled-Up Tripled from 2003 to 2009

 

Housing

A new report released by HUD analyzes data from the American Housing Survey (AHS) and examines trends in household composition. Analysis of Trends in Household Composition Using American Housing Survey Data was prepared for HUD by Frederick J. Eggers and Fouad Moumen of Econometrica, Inc. Drawing upon AHS data collected between 2003 and 2009, Eggers and Moumen found that the number of households composed of multiple subfamilies tripled between 2003 and 2009, from 199,000 to 622,000. Additionally, the number of households containing a relative other than a spouse or a child under 18 rose by 1.6 million during the same time period.

The study defined doubled-up households as households containing a member other than a spouse, or containing an adult child over age 18 or 21. Overall, adult children over the age of 21 were the most common contributors to doubled-up households. Between 2003 and 2009, the percentage of doubled-up households with a child over 21 increased from 47.4% in 2003 to 50.5% in 2009. Doubled-up households containing a grandchild also increased between 2003 and 2009, from 12.7% to 14.1%.

According to study findings, economic conditions have contributed to the rise of adult children living at home. Between 2003 and 2009, the percentage of adult children with jobs in doubled-up households fell from 60% to 57%. The percentage of adult children reporting salaries, wages or self-employment income also declined. The authors conclude that economic hardship is driving household composition patterns, and further research is needed to determine the causes behind the rise of doubled-up households. A 2013 AHS module may provide more data on the links between doubled up households and homelessness.

View Analysis of Trends in Household Composition Using American Housing Survey Data at: http://bit.ly/1e5yQ2g

 

Heat, rent subsidies in danger if shutdown lingers

From The Associated Press:

BOSTON — As winter approaches and the federal government shutdown lingers, millions of low-income Americans face potential delays in receiving help with their heating bills and monthly rent.

Among the programs that could be impacted as of Nov. 1 are the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, and a voucher program that allows poor families, seniors and the disabled live in private rental units, according to local agencies and state officials who administer the benefits.

The heating program, which last winter provided heating assistance to nearly 9 million income eligible people nationwide, is in limbo until the budget impasse is settled, said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association.

“We don’t have an appropriation yet. We don’t know when we are going to get it. We don’t know how much it will be,” said Wolfe. “And we are already at the beginning of the winter heating season.”

In states like Massachusetts, heating assistance benefits typically begin to go out Nov. 1, but many of the 20 nonprofit agencies that administer the program have not even started accepting applications and one has been forced to close without the federal funding, according to Joe Diamond, head of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action.

The state received $133 million in LIHEAP funding last year, with the typical seasonal benefit ranging from $675 to $1125 for individuals and families who heat their homes with oil, said Diamond.

“The shutdown really has to end,” he said, for heating assistance to beat the arrival of cold weather.

But even if President Obama and congressional Republicans were to come to terms immediately, Wolfe noted that it still could take several more weeks for funding formulas to be determined and money allocated to states.

Nationally, LIHEAP funding was just under $3.5 billion in the last fiscal year, a 30 percent decline since 2010.

Some states could take action to fill the void.

Diamond said he was hoping the Massachusetts Legislature would appropriate $20 million, both to cover emergency heating needs if the federal shutdown continues and to offset the recent funding cuts, particularly with forecasts pointing to higher heating costs this winter.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, administered through funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, pays up to 70 percent of rent for low-income families and individuals who live in privately-owned housing but cannot afford the market rents. The funds are paid directly to landlords.

Aaron Gornstein, Massachusetts undersecretary for housing and community development, said the state was able to pay October rent for its 20,000 vouchers, but would be unable to meet November rents unless the shutdown ends and funds can be obtained from HUD.

The problem would impact both tenants and landlords, he said. Understanding the situation, many landlords might hold off until the government reopens and the payments can be made. But even if landlords chose to pursue eviction, the process would take several months.

“The tenant won’t be immediately displaced,” said Gornstein.

Help shape the Commonwealth’s housing policy!

MassHousing Invitation 2 092313[3]As a member of the North Central Massachusetts Community Reinvestment Act Coalition, we are pleased to invite you to join us at this upcoming event and help shape the Commonwealth’s housing policy!

Please join the Homeownership Center of North Central Massachusetts and the North Central Ma CRA Coalition for a town hall forum with MassHousing’s Tom Gleason—who wants to hear your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges of providing low and moderate-income housing to our region.

Tom Gleason is a career housing professional with more than 36 years of experience in mortgage lending, community development and bond finance. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing). 

Click on the image to the left to view the invitation in its full size.

RSVP to Flor Cintron at fcintron@twincitiescdc.org or call her at (978) 342.9561.

HUD Reports Record-Breaking Worst Case Housing Needs

According to HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs 2011: Report to Congress, the number of renters with worst case housing needs grew to a record 8.48 million in 2011, from a previous high of 7.10 million in 2009. There has been a 43% increase in worst case housing needs since 2007. HUD released the full report on August 16, after having released an executive summary of the report in February (see Memo, 2/22).

“Worst case housing needs” are those of very low income (below 50% of Area Median Income) renters who do not receive government housing assistance and who either spend more than half of their income on rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or who face both of these challenges. The vast majority of households with worst case housing needs have severe housing cost burdens, while 3% live in severely inadequate conditions.

The gap between worst case housing needs and assisted households is the highest ever recorded, with two worst case housing needs households for every one assisted household.

No household type, demographic group, or region was unaffected by the growth of worst case housing needs from 2009 to 2011. Nearly 4 in 10 (38.2%) worst case housing needs households in 2011 were families with children, followed by non-family renters (35%) and the elderly without children (17.3%). While very low income families with children are a high proportion of worst case housing needs households, only one in four very low income families with children receive assistance. Forty-eight percent of new worst case housing needs households were among white, 28% among Hispanic, and 13% among black households.

On the national level, 44% of very low income households have worst case housing needs; this rate is slightly higher in the West and slightly lower in the Northeast and Midwest. Further, the prevalence of worst case housing needs is slightly higher in suburbs and somewhat lower in non-metropolitan areas. Housing assistance plays an important role in reducing worst case housing needs but is relatively less common in suburbs where only 18.4% of very low income households are assisted.

Worst Case Housing Needs 2011 identifies household formation, renter share, renter income losses, renter assistance gap, and affordable unit competition as contributing factors to the growth in worst case housing needs. The likelihood of a very low income renter facing worst case housing needs increased from 41.4% in 2009 to 43.9% in 2011. The increase in worst case housing needs is explained primarily by the increased number of renters. The report suggests that the number of renter households increased because of foreclosures and unemployment, forcing previous homeowners to turn to the rental market. New household formations also added more renters. Together, new household formations and share of renters added 1.38 million in worst case housing needs (53% of the total increase from 2009 to 2011).

Competition for affordable housing also continued to grow—higher income renters occupy 38.4% of the units affordable to ELI renters, 34.4% of the units affordable to VLI renters, and 29.9% of the units affordable to LI renters.

The nation no longer has enough affordable units for renters at the lowest incomes even if allocation were perfect. The vacancy rate for units affordable to ELI households is at an all-time low with just 5.4% vacant (compared to 13.1% in 2009) and this at-risk population faces the tightest market since HUD began to measure worst case housing needs in 1985. The report concluded by raising the importance of housing vouchers to assist the 8.48 million households with worst case housing needs.

This report is the 14th in the series that HUD prepares for Congress using the latest American Housing Survey to discuss trends and causes of worst case housing needs.

The full report is available here: http://bit.ly/YpkP4E