Friday News Round-up!

As we culminate yet another week, we welcome the start of spring (even though it doesn’t really feel like it )! Here are a few new stories that caught our attention this week!

  1. The Daily News reported that Workforce Housing Advisers (WFHA) cut the ribbon on 935 Kelly Street — a property that was considered one of the most dilapidated multifamily buildings in the Bronx. Within the past few years, WFHA bought the mortgage, foreclosed on the property, and renovated the building (along with four other properties on the same block). Also, having organized with tenants in other WFHA buildings,  Kerri White, the Co-Director of Organizing at UHAB, understands the challenges involved in sealing the foreclosure. In the same Daily News article, she comments, “Workforce Housing is a responsible developer… We see them trying to do their best, but that can’t happen until they own the property and put in more money.” We congratulate the tenants as well as WFHA for sealing the foreclosure and commend the collaborative efforts in the building.
  2. New York City proposed a bill that would create an Office of the Inspector General for the Police Department. This bill is response to the recent opposition to the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Program, which predominately targets African American and Latino folks. Such tactics prove that this program perpetuates racism. Speaker Christine Quinn has vehemently supported the bill, asserting that the NYPD needs more independent oversight.  However, Mayor Bloomberg has threatened to veto the bill, claiming that such legislation would undermine the police commissioner’s authority . Regardless, we hope that enacting such a bill would improve accountability and transparency in our police system.
  3. In Albany, elected officials are solidifying a plan to increase New York state’s minimum wage over the next three years. Currently, the state’s minimum wage sits at a low $7.25/hr., but, by late 2015, the new agreement would increase the minimum wage to $9/hr. According to the New York Daily News, lawmakers could reach a decision as early as Tuesday of next week.  While increasing the minimum wage would make many folks’ lives easier, United NY claims that the bill has many loopholes, including the exclusion of tipped workers and tax breaks for employers under 20 years old (which would favor the hiring of younger employers). The agreement is tentative, and we will keep you updated as the story unfold next week…
  4. At a National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference, Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced additional cuts to the Housing Choice Voucher program. According to Donovan, these cuts would affect 125,000 families and individuals that receive permanent housing vouchers, and 100,o00 families and individuals that live in the shelter system. While the intention of these cuts is to boost our national economy, Donovan anticipates that the aftereffects will further cripple our housing market.
  5. The housing market is making a comeback, and fast! According to the NY Times, the current national demand for housing is outweighing the supply, which had led to bidding wars and significant price increases. Many developers have been taken by surprise and, as a result, are scrambling to create more housing stock. The Wall Street Journal reported that February of 2007, new-home construction rose by 28 percent. While the market is booming again, we worry that the mortgage crisis of 2007 will resurrect itself. Stay tuned for further developments…

Have a great weekend, and we will return next weekend with more news!

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