The demand for housing subsidies became clear in Santa Clara County, Calif., in April when the housing authority accepted applications for its Sec. 8 voucher waiting list for the first time in seven years.

About 46,000 people applied in the first two days. The agency received 20,000 online applications within just the first four hours, reported Alex Sanchez, executive director.

Thousands more requests were expected to come in before the deadline.

This huge demand is a sign of both the need for affordable housing and the high cost of housing in Silicon Valley, according to Sanchez, but even he was surprised by the flood of requests.

The housing authority has 16,000 active Sec. 8 vouchers, with little turnover. The last time that the agency accepted Sec. 8 applications, about 27,000 people responded.

Importance of grocers outlined

Grocery stores play a key role in improving low-income communities. Not only do they provide local residents with jobs and access to basic necessities, but they often set the stage for further development, according to the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC)

The national organization reports that the number of food stores in poor neighborhoods is nearly one-third lower than in wealthier areas. Once they are built, however, they often thrive. Research has shown that inner-city grocery stores outperform their suburban counterparts.

LISC reported supporting 44 food-market projects around the country by the end of 2005.

Details about the important role of grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods can be found in Food, Markets, and Health Communities. The report is available at

NYC offers housing incentives to attract teachers

The New York City Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers announced a plan to provide housing subsidies to attract math, science and special education teachers to the most challenging schools.

The program will provide up to $5,000 for initial housing-related expenses such as relocation, downpayments or mortgage fees. Eligible teachers would then receive a $400 monthly housing stipend for two years.

In exchange, the teachers must commit to teach in city schools for at least three years.

Using the housing incentive, the department was set to go out and recruit new teachers from other regions.


In memoriam: Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs, an urban planning pioneer and advocate for smart growth, died in April at the age of 89. New Urbanism, smart growth and HOPE VI redevelopments received much of their inspiration from her writings.

Jacobs was internationally renown for books such as The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which was published in 1961. That book was a critique on the urban renewal policies in the United States in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, Jacobs fought to save New York City from a massive freeway project that would have cut through the middle of the city and, among other things, destroyed Washington Square Park. She was even arrested at a 1968 protest against the project.

Holler leads Mercy Housing’s Midwest operations

Mercy Housing appointed Cindy Holler president of Mercy Housing Lakefront, a merger of Lakefront Supportive Housing and Mercy Housing’s Chicago operations. She was also named president of Mercy Housing’s regional operations in Cincinnati.

Holler has more than 20 years of experience in affordable housing. She was previously the national director for Fannie Mae’s American Communities Fund, chief operating officer at Shorebank Development Corp. in Chicago and president of Shorebank’s real estate development company in Cleveland.

New Faze names development director

New Faze Development, Inc., a Sacramento, Calif.-based affordable housing developer specializing in mixed-use and infill development, hired Wendy Saunders as director of project development. She was previously director of economic development for the city of Sacramento.

“I have been fortunate to work for the city of Sacramento during a dynamic growth period,” said Saunders. “New Faze’s commitment to smart growth and innovation appeals to my development philosophy.”

Greystone hires West Coast director

Hal Rose has joined Greystone Servicing Corp., Inc.’s Fannie Mae team as managing director of the West Coast production team.

Rose has more than 35 years of experience. He most recently led the income lending group of First Federal Bank of California, a subsidiary of FirstFed Financial Corp. He was also an executive vice president for ARCS Commercial Mortgage Co., LLP.

CLPHA appoints legislative director

The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) named Gerard Holder legislative director. Holder is a former executive director of the Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century.

CLPHA’s legislative and regulatory agenda for 2006 calls for adequate funding, flexibility and access to financing in order to protect and build on public housing. Public housing is facing a fiscal year 2007 administration budget that proposes to fund about 80% of the estimated actual cost of operating public housing.

New Mexico MFA appoints executive director

The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority elected Jay Czar to be its new executive director. He replaces Katherine Miller, who left the position to become secretary of the state Department of Finance and Administration.

Czar is the former vice president of marketing and government affairs for Lovelace Sandia Health Systems. In 2001, he served as chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque, N.M.

California’s infill housing potential measured

California’s cities and urban neighborhoods are estimated to encompass nearly 500,000 potential infill parcels, comprising about 220,000 acres of land, according to a new report. The Future of Infill Housing in California: Opportunities, Potential, Feasibility and Demand is the first statewide assessment that looks at the potential for infill housing development.

Developed to their fullest potential with housing, the sites could accommodate between 2 million and 4 million additional housing units, but many sites face physical, regulatory and financial constraints, according to the report. A more realistic estimate of the state’s infill housing potential is in the range of 1 million to 1.5 million units, or about 25% of the projected housing need over the next 20 years, according to the report.

As part of the study, the pilot California Infill Parcel Locator,, was created to help identify and research potential infill development sites.

The study was commissioned by the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and prepared by a team of researchers at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at the University of California at Berkeley.