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Topic: What is Flint's housing future
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El Supremo

The rehabs in Smith Village are a prime example. Houses were poorly chosen and there were extensive cost overruns. There was not enough Flint staff to oversee the projects and shoddy construction practices created a battle by unhappy home owners who went to the media. A Flint inspector appeared to be part of the problem as he approved construction that never should have been approved. HUD sustained the homeowners complaints and the whole project became a money pit.
Post Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:42 am 
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El Supremo

Habitat for Humanity Detroit reports layoffs, closures
The Detroit News 11:39 p.m. ET Jan. 17, 2017
The organization that renovates houses to get them ready for low-income homeowners needs a little rehab itself.

Habitat for Humanity Detroit is undergoing a strategic restructuring that includes laying off most employees and closing ReStore locations, the agency announced Tuesday.

The group cited ongoing challenges, including financial issues.

When I joined the organization roughly a year ago, the board charged me with addressing several financial issues, said Ken Cockrel Jr., executive director. These included a mortgage delinquency rate over 40 percent among our homeowners, a large number of empty homes in our portfolio, and ReStores that had not been profitable.

Habitat Detroit has worked to modify homeowner loans and eliminate nonessential positions, a statement announcing the restructuring said. Its two resale stores are on Mack Avenue near Cadieux on the west side and Greenfield at Interstate 96 on the east side.

While the organization has seen some improvement in ReStore revenues and reduced the delinquency rate, Habitat Detroit has also been hit hard by the loss of government funding and a decline in corporate sponsorships, the statement said. As a result, the organization has had to take a long hard look at the current business model.

The goal, the statement said, is to see staff levels increase by early spring, open a new ReStore location and reorganize the agency to provide a higher level of service pursuant to our mission to provide strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.

Cockrel could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Habitat for Humanity is an international, nonprofit, Christian-based organization, according to its website. Founded in 1977, its goal is to provide low-income families with affordable housing. Habitat Detroit is entering its 31st year. In 1986, the group bought its first three houses for $1 apiece and began renovating them, the website said. A family moved into the first Habitat Detroit renovated home the following year.
Post Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:59 am 
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El Supremo

What will this mean for Flint?

Study: Many MI residents unable to afford water bills
Posted: Jan 16, 2017 4:33 PM CST
Updated: Jan 16, 2017 4:33 PM CST
Posted By Brianna Owczarzak, Digital producer

By Samaia Hernandez


A new study said millions of people could soon get water and sewer bills they no longer can afford.

The reasons are illustrated by a city where residents can't even trust what's coming out of the pipe.

Residents across the area are noticing increases in their water bills, despite credit reductions. According to Michigan State University researchers, they are not along. Aging water infrastructure and population decline in inner cities are contributing to an affordability crisis.

A new study ranked Michigan 12 among states with the highest concentration of areas where families cannot afford water and sewer bills. When you add the ongoing water crisis, Flint residents said it is too much to bare.

"The city has a tendency to place liens against someone's house now if the water is behind, their bills. Which I think is totally unfortunate because as you know, why should you pay for poison," said Fredrick Jones, Flint resident.

Lifetime Flint residents said they feel like they are getting ripped off.

"We're paying too much," Angie Maynard said.

Nationwide water rates have increased 41 percent since 2010. If the trend continues for another five years more than 35 percent of U.S. households could find themselves priced out of water and sewer services.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Post Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:26 am 
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El Supremo

Unlearning the lessons of the housing crisis
Trumps administration appears poised to undo many of the protections put in place in the wake of the housing crisis
by Rachel M. Cohen Jan 19, 2017, 1:00pm EST

Nearly six million American families lost their homes to foreclosure between September 2008 and September 2015.

This unprecedented housing crisis, promulgated by well-documented Wall Street fraud and predation, ledeventuallyto government action, culminating in July 2010, when President Obama signed the DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law.

Dodd-Frank outlawed some prominent forms of predatory lending and established a new agencythe Consumer Financial Protection Bureauwhose primary mandate is to aggressively penalize firms for fraudulent and shady business practices. Three years after its launch, the CFPB had addressed more than 400,000 consumer complaints concerning issues like unauthorized credit card fees and ballooning mortgage payments, and distributed more than $10 billion in settlements back to consumers.

Another three-odd years later, Donald J. Trumps surprising presidential victory has sent a deep chill down the spines of housing and civil rights advocates across the country. In his capacity as a developer, Trump was a defendant in one of the largest cases ever brought by the federal government for housing discrimination against African-Americans. In his short political career, he has pledged to deregulate the housing and financial sectors, and his early cabinet appointments have close ties to Wall Street.

"Were about a decade out from the housing crisis, and its important that we dont succumb to this collective amnesia about what happened," says Sarah Edelman, the director of housing policy at the Center for American Progress. "Were at real risk of returning to predatory lending and losing the protections Congress put in place to make sure nothing like that ever happens again."

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 bars landlords, lenders, and sellers from discriminating based on race, sex, religion, or national origin, and requires recipients of federal funds to proactively promote housing integration. In 2015, under Obama, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a new federal ruleknown as the "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule"to provide communities with new tools to ensure they meet their fair housing obligations.
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Unlearning the lessons of the housing crisis Trumps administration appears poised to undo many of the protections put in place in the wake of the housing crisis.

At the time, Republicans decried the AFFH rule as government overreach. Trumps now-nominee for HUD secretary, Ben Carson, called it a dangerous "social engineering" scheme in an opinion piece published during his 2015 primary run. And while campaigning for president, Trump said hed rescind the rule.

Already active litigation regarding violations of housing and civil rights law would also likely be stymied by a motivated Trump administration. For context, the civil rights division of the Department of Justice filed more than 100 lawsuits between 2012 and 2015, with a majority of those cases concerning housing and lending discrimination. Former DOJ officials predict that Trumps administration will not be as committed to enforcing fair housing laws, especially if the Senate confirms Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as the incoming attorney general.

Sessions allegedly railed against the NAACP and the ACLU for trying to "force civil rights down the throats of people," according to testimony at his 1986 confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship (he was ultimately denied the position because of such remarks). If Sessions brings this point of view to his new role, Justice Department lawyers working on fair housing cases could be reassigned, and Trumps team could simply avoid pursuing similar suits in the future.

Stuart Rossman, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, raises several additional concerns for fair housing advocates. For the past few years, two homeowners insurance trade associations have been challenging a 2013 HUD rule that formalized how housing discrimination cases could be tried under the so-called "disparate impact" standard, which lets individuals allege housing discrimination without having to prove that someone intentionally sought to discriminate.
""Were about a decade out from the housing crisis, and its important that we dont succumb to this collective amnesia about what happened.""

The Obama administration has vigorously defended the rule in court. "Will the [Trump] government now throw up their hands and send their lawyers home?" asks Rossman. If the rule is thrown out, individuals may find it more difficult to bring fair housing cases forward.

And then theres the matter of proving these cases once theyre on the docket. At present, the federal government collects detailed demographic data from banks under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, including price data for loans and information about who has been denied service. "Banks very much want to keep this information private, because they know when its collected it will be scrutinized," Rossman explains. By evaluating HMDA data, lawyers can assess if banks are treating some groups of people differently than others.

"Im not saying theres not overt discrimination cases out there, but the systemic, institutional type of cases which affect a broad range of individuals are far more likely to [fall under] disparate impact," Rossman says. "The banks, auto lenders, and insurance companies are far too sophisticated to engage in overt sexism, racism, and ageism. If you cant get that aggregate analysis to make a disparate impact claim, youre in a really bad spot to sue."

Since the HMDAs passage in 1975, each administration has had a fair amount of discretion to interpret the law. If, say, Trumps team decides they dont need to require banks to report as much information as they do now, changing HUDs disclosure requirements, lawyers could find themselves locked out from the sort of aggregate data needed to prove housing discrimination in court.

Rossman also points to a tactic taken by George W. Bushs administration, which used the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to protect banks from civil rights suits initiated by state attorneys general and private lawyers. That means there are multiple strategies the Trump administration could pursue to avoid fair housing litigation at both the federal and local levels.

On the finance side of the equation, Trumps nominee to lead the Treasury Department is Steven Mnuchina Goldman Sachs veteran of 17 years. Mnuchin founded and ran a mortgage lender, OneWest Bank, that was recently accused of housing discrimination in a federal complaint filed by two nonprofit groups. According to the complaint, OneWest (now a subsidiary of CIT Bank), was far more likely to foreclose on black and Latino homes than to lend to those owners, and neglected to maintain foreclosed homes in black and Latino neighborhoods, hastening their decline, while it actively maintained foreclosed homes in majority white areas.

"Mnuchin has a lot of rhetoric about his interest in protecting working families, but thats not what his record has shown," says Paulina Gonzalez, the executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, one of the groups to lodge the complaint. "The evidence speaks for itself." That evidence now includes a newly disclosed 2013 memo from the California attorney generals office alleging that OneWest repeatedly flouted a variety of foreclosure laws.

Mnuchin isnt the only Goldman alum lined up to set financial policy in the Trump era. The president-elect has also named Gary Cohn, the president and COO of Goldman Sachs, to direct the National Economic Council, the presidents main forum for economic policy advice. Likewise, Jay Clayton, a Wall Street attorney whose firm has long represented Goldman Sachs, was recently nominated to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. During the last administration, SEC regulations were key to holding banks accountable for bad behavior that led to the mortgage crisis, but the New York Times calls Claytons appointment "a strong signal that financial regulation in the Trump administration will emphasize helping companies raise capital in the public markets over tightening regulation."

Trump will also have the ability to appoint leaders to all three of the major financial regulatory agencies: the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the OCC. "Though the good news is we now have legal standards that prohibit irresponsible lending, it only underscores how important those regulatory agencies are, and their leadership," says John Taylor, the president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
"Donald J. Trumps surprising presidential victory has sent a deep chill down the spines of housing and civil rights advocates across the country."

"These appointments are critical," Taylor continues. "Is [Trump] finding people whose first obligation is to ensure that average working class Americans are treated fairly, or is he looking out primarily for the businesses and agencies that might be affected by regulation?"

Ultimately, housing advocates worry about what will happen if Trump and congressional Republicans deregulate the housing industry and repeal the young Dodd-Frank law. Trumps transition team has already said its looking to "dismantle" Dodd-Frank and Mnuchin has said targeting it would be a top priority for him. Many experts have suggested that rather than go through the trouble of repealing Dodd-Frank entirely, Republicans may look for ways to starve it, rendering it ineffective.

David Dayen, journalist and author of Chain of Title, a 2016 bestseller on the foreclosure crisis, says Trump may even be motivated to "weaponize" Dodd-Frankusing it to selectively advance his personal goals.

For example, Obamas Justice Department has been pressuring Deutsche Bank to pay billions of dollars for its malfeasance during the housing crisis. Trump owes Deutsche Bank $364 million. Similarly, the FDIC and the Federal Reserve have been investigating Wells Fargo for anti-consumer practices. Donald Trump owes $410 million to Wells Fargo. Dayen sums up Trumps fiscal conflicts of interest: "Trump may find it very appealing to be able to prosecute some financial institutions and not enforce rules at others."

The unraveling of post-housing crisis protections could be especially dangerous as Republicans talk animatedly about privatizing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the quasi-public agencies that help stabilize the U.S. housing market by securing the insurance markets and keeping mortgage rates low. Mnuchin has already said the next administration will get the government out of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

On top of housing discrimination fears, advocates worry about what Trumps administration could do to exacerbate demand for affordable housing across strata: for homeowners and renters, urbanites and rural dwellers. "After millions had their homes foreclosed upon, and millions more millennials delayed homeownership due in part to crushing student loan debt, demand for rental units has reached its highest levels since the 1960s, resulting in skyrocketing rents," explains Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Between 2005 and 2015, roughly nine million households moved from owning homes to rentingthe largest change over any 10-year period on record. As a result, Wall Street firms started investing more heavily in single-family rentals, and a recent report out of Atlanta found that these institutional landlords were more likely to evict tenants than mom-and-pop ones. "Its really important to keep watching these companies as they develop, because many of them are not located in jurisdictions with strong tenant protections," Sarah Edelman says.

The stakes are high, and the litany of housing risks is long. But, thanks to the progress made over the last eight years, advocates at least will enter the Trump years with language and policy proposals they lacked a decade ago when foreclosures hit en masse. "Back then, progressives didnt have a shelf of ideas, or the architecture to actually make the system safer," says Dayen. This anti-discrimination framework will be threatened, and in some cases dismantled, under Trump. But it can also be defended, and restored.
Post Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:26 am 
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El Supremo

There are a lot of empty homes in Flint, Michigan
by Kathryn Vasel @KathrynVasel February 11, 2016: 12:40 PM ET
flint michigan city
Flint has a housing problem.

Nationwide, the average vacancy rate is 1.6%, according a report from RealtyTrac. But in Flint, Michigan, the rate is nearly five times higher at 7.5%--the highest in the nation.

"That is pretty worrisome," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "The long-term impact is blight that spreads from neighborhoods and ripples out to the larger community ... it ultimately drags on home prices and values."
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In Flint, one in 14 houses are vacant, Blomquist noted. But in five zip codes close to the city's center, the problem is much worse: one in five houses are empty.

"It's a downward spiral as vacancy rates rise," he said. "A homeowner who is trying to sell their house might have to end up walking away, and that adds to the problem."

Flint is under a state of emergency after it was discovered that the city's water supply had been contaminated with unsafe levels of lead.

"I would suspect there is not a lot of demand in buying or renting in the city at this point," Blomquist said.

Related: How to help with the water crisis in Flint, Michigan

The city's housing market was hit hard during the Great Recession, but prices were up in 2015. Now there are signs that the water crisis could be straining the market's recovery. The median home price fell by 8% in December alone, the biggest drop in the country.

The situation isn't much better an hour south of Flint. Detroit's vacancy rate is 5.3%.

On a national level, the majority of vacant homes are investment properties. Less than 5% of vacant homes are in foreclosure or are bank owned, according to Blomquist.

Here are the cities with the highest vacancy rates:

Flint, Michigan: 7.5%
Detroit, Michigan: 5.3%
Youngstown, Ohio: 4.4%
Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas: 3.8%
Atlantic City, New Jersey: 3.7%

Cities with lowest vacancy rates:

San Jose, California: 0.2%
Fort Collins, Colorado: 0.2%
Manchester, New Hampshire: 0.3%
Provo, Utah: 0.3%
Lancaster, Pennsylvania: 0.3%

Are you a homeowner in Flint, Michigan looking to move? We'd like to hear from you. Tell us your story and you could be featured in an upcoming story on CNNMoney.
Post Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:12 am 
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El Supremo

The 35 Best Bad Neighborhoods to Buy a Home In
If you can live anywhere, why not go where the housing is cheap?
by Patrick Clark
July 20, 2016, 11:01 PM CDT

A vacant, unfinished home in an abandoned development outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Are you a real estate investor who wants to profit the old-fashioned way, by buying low and selling high? Are you a mobile American worker in a city where the rents are rising fast and home prices are through the roof?

Have we got a list for you.

The list, RealtyTrac's "Best Bad Neighborhoods to Buy a Home," was created for investors shopping for bargain properties they can fix up and resell at a higher price. That doesnt mean a remote worker with a savvy for undervalued real estate cant use it to scope out local housing marketsparticularly if they spend their day toiling in front of a computer screen for an employer with an enlightened view of telecommuting.

To rank neighborhoods for home flippers, RealtyTrac, a housing data firm, appraised them on two planes. It used statewide school rankings as well the percentage of underwater homes 1 as indicators that the local housing market is lagging behind the national recovery. It used the volume and profitability with which investors are flipping houses as a predictor of growth. The result is a mix of poor neighborhoods in big cities and sections of smaller cities on the outskirts of large, urban cores.

Take the section of Cicero, Illinois, stretching north and west from the Hawthorne Race Course. The neighborhood has poorly rated schools, and 39 percent of homeowners are underwater on their mortgages. But the average home flip in the first quarter of 2016 returned a gross profit of $101,000, and the neighborhoods millennial population has been ticking up, another indicator of future home buyer demand.

While the ranking was created with investors in mind, Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac, said home buyers could use it to take advantage of undervalued markets.

Seeking housing market opportunity in poor neighborhoods can be a fraught business, for investors and occupiers alike. A bit of housing market activity is undoubtedly a good thing for homeowners who have seen local values fall. But an influx of investors can also lead to higher rental prices, and the specter of gentrification looms large even in cities that have seen populations decline and old housing abandoned.

Declining cities often have neighborhoodsnear a university, perhaps, or a hospital centerwhere theres not enough housing to go around, said Robert Silverman, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Buffalo.

You see these bidding wars happening for selective housing in Flint [Michigan] or Buffalo [New York], even while theres excess inventory in other parts of the city, said Silverman, who studies Rust Belt gentrification. "The parts of these cities that have affordable housing are not always located where the job growth is taking place."
Post Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:17 am 
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El Supremo

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About ABC12
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Home Local Article

Flint housing market rebounds amid water crisis

By Mark Bullion |
Posted: Wed 5:49 PM, Feb 01, 2017 |
Updated: Wed 6:34 PM, Feb 01, 2017

FLINT (WJRT) - (02/01/17) - Home values in Flint have risen over the past two years, despite the water crisis the city is facing.

Rob Moen, president of East Central Association of Realtors, attributes the rise in home values to not only the millions of dollars in federal and state funding for the city's water infrastructure, but also the economy as a whole.

"The community has a lot of people that want good things to happen in the city," Moen said.

Those good things continue to happen.

"People are starting to realize the water lines are getting replaced and they're seeing the action out there on the streets," he said.

Karen Curtis, a Century 21 realtor, said it's an adjustment for anyone who is looking to buy a house in Flint, but having knowledge of the city's water situation is key.

"No matter where you move to, you have issues and things change. We live in an environment where things change all the time," Curtis said.

Because home values in the city have rebounded, the demand for commercial properties has also increased, more specifically in downtown.
Post Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:33 am 
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El Supremo

Genesee County Habitat for Humanity awarded $1 million for Flint home repairs

Media Contact: Misty Miller
517-373-1858 | millerm58@michigan.gov

February 3, 2017

MSHDA grant paves way for 30 major rehabilitation projects

Flint, MICH. Flint homeowners in need of critical home repairs have an opportunity for added financial support from a $1 million grant awarded to Genesee County Habitat for Humanity by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Habitat for Humanitys program provides support to low-income homeowners, so they can alleviate health and safety issues in and around their homes, said Brian Mills, MSHDAs acting executive director. This grant aligns with our mission and is part of an ongoing state effort to help Flint households recover from the water crisis.

The grant will allow Habitat to rehabilitate 30 owner-occupied homes in the targeted Flint neighborhoods of Grand Traverse District, Mott Park, Metawanenee Hills, Ballenger Square and Circle Drive.

"We are grateful for our partnership with MSHDA and this significant grant," Margaret Kato, executive director of GCHFH, said. "With these funds we will be able to continue to grow our owner-occupied repair program in the City of Flint and move forward our mission to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope."

Eligible repairs can include roofs, structural damage, porch repair, electric, plumbing, HVAC, handicap accessibility, siding, exterior paint, weatherization and energy efficiency. Homeowners must live in the house that needs repairs and are required to perform a minimum of eight hours of sweat equity for any repair work received. Additional eligibility requirements are available at www.geneseehabitat.org/home-repair.

Im encouraged to see the state recognize the potential of our region and choose us for this unique economic development opportunity, said State Rep. Phil Phelps, D-Flushing. The flexibility of this award will allow Habitat for Humanity to spend this money, creatively, in a manner that best meets the needs of the community.

In 2016, the Genesee County Habitat affiliate rehabilitated almost 100 homes through its repair program. Homeowners interested in getting home improvement help should contact GCHFH at (810) 766-9089 or learn more at www.geneseehabitat.org.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.*

*MSHDA's loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mshda.
Post Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:59 am 
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El Supremo

The grant will allow Habitat to rehabilitate 30 owner-occupied homes in the targeted Flint neighborhoods of Grand Traverse District, Mott Park, Metawanenee Hills, Ballenger Square and Circle Drive."

Lots of federal money has been used rehabbing, sometimes excessively, homes in Metawanenee Hills. Looking at a Realtytrac list of bank owned properties in Flint, I saw this listing in the Metawanenee area.

Welch Blvd bank owned as of 10/18/2016 $51,000
4 bedroom 1 bath 1889 square feet
Taxes $1, 064 8.06%
School poor F
Crime rate very high F
Criminal sex offenders 59 within 1 mile

Kind of makes you want to run out and buy it right.
Post Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:08 am 
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