NeighborWorks Grows By 7,000 Units

NeighborWorks America’s multifamily network added 6,964 new units to its portfolio in 2006. The addition brings the organization’s total portfolio to a record 62,408 units.

The growth in new units slowed last year, however. In 2005, the network added 7,851 apartments.

Frances Ferguson, national director of NeighborWorks’ Multifamily Initiative, noted that the group’s members deploy a variety of development tools to make their projects happen, including using low-income housing tax credits, mixing market-rate units with affordable apartments, and creating mixed-use developments.

“Affordable housing cannot be cookie cutter,” she said.

NeighborWorks America provides financial support and technical assistance for communities across the nation through its network of more than 235 nonprofit organizations.

American Homes Beef Up

American homes are getting bigger when it comes to the number of bedrooms inside, according to new data from the Census Bureau.

In 2005, one in five occupied homes, or 20 percent, had four or more bedrooms, an increase from 17.7 percent in 2000. Utah led this trend, with four out of every 10 homes having four or more bedrooms.

Single-family houses are by far the must common housing type, at 62.7 percent. Apartments with 10 or more units are the second most common housing type overall, at 12 percent, according to census data. The District of Columbia had 42.4 percent of housing units in this category. Among cities, about half of all housing units in Alexandria, Va., were in apartment buildings with 10 or more units.

No Citizenship, No Apartment

Nearly two-thirds of the voters in Farmers Branch, Texas, approved an ordinance that would ban apartments from renting to most illegal immigrants. It is the first time that there’s been such a vote in the nation.

The Dallas suburb was preparing to implement the new law in late May, but civil rights groups were fighting the plans. The Farmers Branch case is important because it could prompt more communities to take up similar initiatives.

Under the ordinance, apartment owners would have to obtain proof of the citizenship or legal immigration status of a renter before entering into a new rental agreement.

ily is already a tenant, the head of household or spouse has eligible immigration status, and the family does not include anyone other than the head of household and their spouse and their parents, or minor children of the head of household or spouse.

Apartment owners could be fined $500 a day for violating the ordinance.

The Apartment Association of Greater Dallas opposed the ordinance. It places a burden on apartment managers and owners who will be put in the position of screening for citizenship, said Gerry Henigsman, executive vice president of the association, noting that currently most apartments only ask for a valid driver’s license as identification. In addition, he said, the ordinance is too vague about what documentation is acceptable. At press time, a temporary restraining order was in effect, stalling the city’s plans for the ordinance.

Berkeley Paid Rents for Dead Tenants

The Berkeley, Calif., City Council in May dismissed all of its employees in the Berkeley Housing Authority amid some distressing reports that the agency had paid landlords rent subsidies for 15 dead tenants. In some cases, the subsidies were paid for up to two years after the tenant had died, according to a city report.

The report also alleged that the housing authority had granted multiple- bedroom vouchers to single-person households and allowed ineligible family members to “inherit” assistance ahead of persons on the waiting list.