Friday News Round-Up!

congress

This week, we left another year behind and started anew! With the first week of 2013 behind us, we’d like to round out the events of the week.

  1. Today, the House of Representatives passed a $9.7 B bill to support homeowners that continue to battle with the aftermath of Sandy, with the primary goal is of helping homeowners and local governments recover from the unprecedented costs of the storm.  Specifically, the bill gives the National Flood Insurance Program the ability to utilize the allotted money to fill insurance claims stemming from the storm’s damage. The bill still needs to pass through the Senate (which is expected to happen later today.) With the detriment of Sandy still plaguing many New Yorkers and New Jersey-ers, we’re glad to see the federal government taking more initiative to further recovery efforts. This news comes after outrage directed at Speaker Boehner earlier this week for tabling a different measure.
  2. This week, The Atlantic Cities published an article advocating for the implementation of more effective rent control laws. Tatian illustrates that the rates of rental vacancies have dropped from 11.1 percent in 2009 to 8.6 percent in 2012. He attributes the decrease in vacancies to the current mortgage market, where homeowners are confronted with unstable mortgages as well as an inability to obtain new mortgages. As a result, there has been an influx of renters in the market. While he recognizes the importance of stricter rent control laws, he also understands they are vastly unpopular.  To better reflect the reality of renters (especially those seeking affordable housing) and he advocates for the creation of diverse housing with harsher affordability regulations and  better tenants protections.
  3. Delayed affordable housing construction in Williamsburg and Greenpoint has perpetuated gentrification.  Seven years ago, several high-rise high-rent buildings were commissioned to be constructed in these neighborhoods. At the time, the city and developers  associated with these projects agreed that 3,500 units would be preserved as affordable housing through various programs, including NYCHA.  As of now, expensive high-rises now line the East River, but the affordable housing units on the 12-acre Cooper Park House is non-existent.  The delayed construction is attributed to bureaucratic tendencies and, prioritization of other housing developments. With neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint gentrifying rampantly, we hope that developments, like Cooper Park House, will become priority.
  4. With the culmination of 2012, Pete Souza, official White House photographer, posted his most intimate photographs of President Obama and other executive elected officials on Flickr. The pictures range from the moment President Obama was briefed on the Sandy Hook shooting to the moment he heard that Osama Bin Ladin was killed to time First Lady Michelle Obama competed in a potato-sac race with Jimmy Fallon. The photographs are heart-wrenching and zany. Souza’s series serves as a point of reflection as well as humanizes our leaders, acknowledging their fallibility and capacity for growth.

Have a great first weekend of 2013 and we look forward to an exciting year at UHAB!

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