There's something happening today. Little by little. City by city. The conversation around affordable housing is building. I can feel it starting to stick. The talk no longer feels as fleeting as a sneeze.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio made affordable housing a centerpiece of his State of the City address this year. He told all of Gotham that new rules are needed to build more affordable housing.
He's not alone. Earlier this year, in Salt Lake City, Mayor Ralph Becker called for the development or preservation of 5,000 affordable units.
The two leaders aren't the first to talk about affordable housing, but the conversations they're leading seem deeper, more intense than those of the past.
You can read about de Blasio, Becker, and other mayors who are emphasizing affordable housing in this issue (see page 30).
Other items that have caught my eye in recent weeks:
Tough odds: An astonishing 88,696 housing-lottery applications were submitted for 55 affordable units in a controversial development in New York City. The project drew fire for having one door for its rich, condominium residents and a separate entrance for its low-income renters. Despite the controversy, people are pounding on the door to get in.
Coming soon: Star Wars creator George Lucas has proposed a 224-unit affordable housing development in Marin County, Calif. He originally wanted to expand his studios on the site but junked those plans after a long battle with neighbors. Now, he's thinking housing, and he's looking at funding the project using his own bank account.
And, finally: Reading the different budget proposals reminds me that, in fiscal 2010, the HOME program was appropriated more than $1.8 billion. This year? Just $900 million.
Seems some leaders still need to be persuaded about the importance of, and desperate need for, affordable housing.