In the News

News from around the web on issues affecting renters.

In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class

In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class: New York Times

For rent and utilities to be considered affordable, they are supposed to take up no more than 30 percent of a household’s income. But that goal is increasingly unattainable for middle-income families as a tightening market pushes up rents ever faster, outrunning modest rises in pay. The strain is not limited to the usual high-cost cities like New York and San Francisco. An analysis for The New York Times by Zillow, the real estate website, found 90 cities where the median rent — not including utilities — was more than 30 percent of the median gross income.

Eviction bill deserves to get kicked to the curb: Brown

Eviction bill deserves to get kicked to the curb: Brown: Chicago Sun-Times

Rep. Monique Davis has fought since 2009 to forestall being evicted from a Chicago Board of Education building she has used rent-free as her legislative office for the past 11 years. But when the shoe is on the other foot, the Chicago Democrat takes a dim view of tenants she says “game the system” to thwart landlords — such as her — in eviction court. At Davis’ urging, an Illinois House committee on Wednesday approved a measure she sponsored to make it easier for Cook County landlords to evict problem tenants.

FHFA reaches settlement with City of Chicago over vacant property lawsuit

FHFA reaches settlement with City of Chicago over vacant property lawsuit: Housing Wire

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reached a settlement with the City of Chicago over the city’s vacant property ordinances, ending a 2½ year legal battle. The FHFA, as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sued the city on December 12, 2011, after the city amended its vacant and abandoned building ordinances to require mortgagees to register, secure and maintain foreclosed properties.

Renting An Apartment? This Mistake Could Cost You $5,000 Or More

Renting An Apartment? This Mistake Could Cost You $5,000 Or More: Forbes

If you were at risk of losing $5,000, $10,000 or even $15,000 and could do something to stop it, would you? Would you sit by and twiddle your thumbs, or would you leap into action and do something to protect your stash? The answer is a no-brainer: you’d leap into action. Yet according to a new study, more than half of adults ages 23 to 29 years old who rent their homes haven’t bothered to take out renters insurance, putting all their stuff (and add it all up, you’ve got a lot of stuff) at risk.

The Future of Chicago's Most Infamous Public Housing Project

Little remains of Chicago's Cabrini-Green, a mid-century public housing complex once home to as many as 15,000 people. The poorly maintained high rises, rife with gang violence, were eventually demolished (the final one came down in 2011). Today, only low-rise units and dozens of acres of vacant land remain. The Chicago Housing Authority hopes to see it all redeveloped soon. Last year, the CHA launched its "Plan Forward: Communities That Work," which aims to replace or rehab 25,000 subsidized housing units in the city by 2015, a goal originally set for 2010.

New report reveals pervasive discrimination in housing voucher program

New report reveals pervasive discrimination in housing voucher program: WBEZ

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law spent two years investigating discrimination in the subsidized housing market and found rampant racial discrimination.

Subsidized housing vouchers, commonly referred to as Section 8, allow families to rent in the private market. A new report outlines the discrimination.

To assess fair housing practices, trained investigators posing as potential tenants inquire about availability, terms and conditions to assess compliance. White and black testers, with comparable backgrounds, tried to rent from landlords.

Game of Homes

The private-equity firm Blackstone could be your next landlord.
Game of Homes: In These Times

In a 2011 report, Morgan Stanley analysts proclaimed that America was experiencing a transition from an ownership society to a “rentership society.” “The combination of falling home prices, limited mortgage credit, continued liquidations and better rental options is fundamentally changing the way Americans live,” says the report, concluding, “We believe this change is only beginning.” For Wall Street firms, the Morgan Stanley report appears to have become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Seeing a profitable opening in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, investment groups have worked diligently t

Treasury Dept. to help demolish Illinois' vacant, blighted homes

Treasury Dept. to help demolish Illinois' vacant, blighted homes: Chicago Tribune

The Treasury Department will allow Illinois to use up to $30 million of federal hardest-hit funds to demolish vacant, blighted properties in communities most affected by the foreclosure crisis. Municipalities will have to partner with non-profit groups in order to apply for the Blight Reduction Program funds, which will be administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

New Report Finds American Renters Still Cannot Afford Rent Nationwide

New Report Finds American Renters Still Cannot Afford Rent Nationwide: NLIHC

Out of Reach 2014 reveals roots of housing instability and homelessness, and national need for more affordable housing

According to Out of Reach 2014, a report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an individual needs to earn $18.92 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental until at Fair Market Rent. This figure is referred to as the “Housing Wage.” Today’s national average Housing Wage is more than two-and-a-half times the federal minimum wage, and 52% higher than it was in 2000.

As Wells Fargo is Accused of Fabricating Foreclosure Papers, Will Banks Keep Escaping Prosecution?

As Wells Fargo is Accused of Fabricating Foreclosure Papers, Will Banks Keep Escaping Prosecution?: Democracy Now

A new internal report says the Justice Department massively overstated its successes in targeting mortgage fraud while in fact ranking it as a low priority for investigation. The Justice Department’s inspector general says despite playing a central role in the nation’s financial crisis, mortgage fraud was deemed either a low priority or not a priority at all. This comes as a recently revealed internal Wells Fargo document appears to guide lawyers step by step on how to fabricate missing documents to foreclose on homeowners.

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