On the docket this week are a couple of stories that look at the ongoing disagreement between cities and developers, with the former requesting the creation of more affordable housing while the latter hesitates due to fears that creating affordable housing will diminish their profits. Really, the question can be distilled down to a simple question: do we prefer the society we have, or do we prefer the society we’d like to have? Different people, obviously, are going to answer that question differently depending on what they stand to gain or lose. Enjoy chewing on that moral dilemma along with the rest of this week’s Fair Housing 5 offerings.

  • “Prosecutors in Baltimore are investigating allegations that three maintenance men working for the city’s public housing authority refused to perform basic repairs for female residents unless they had sex with them.” That sentence resoundingly sums up why a person’s sex is a protected status under the Fair Housing Act. The Maryland state attorney said this may go beyond simply housing discrimination as they are investigating whether to bring criminal charges against the maintenance men. And really, chances are this happens more often than we’ll ever know. [AP]
  • When faced with the demand for more affordable housing, the common pushback from housing developers is that constructing affordable housing will chip away at the potential profits that housing developers stand to earn. So does moral conscience stand a chance against a capitalist society that champions companies’ desire to always earn more money? Maybe, maybe not. However, a new tool is available for cities and developers to help them calculate how developing affordable housing may not necessarily cut into the developers’ profit margins. Cornerstone Partnership, who created the development calculator, hope that the tool demonstrates that “developers can still produce market-rate housing developments that include affordable housing.” [CityLab]
  • The city of Nashville has formed a committee to address the objections that developers and realtors have to the recently passed “inclusionary zoning” policies. The 50-person committee is made up of people from all aspects of the housing industry with the aim of working out a plan for creating more affordable housing that developers will be likely to get onboard with. [Nashville Public Radio]
  • The New York Times ran a feature this week that highlights the harm that community covenants even from nearly 80 years ago continue to perpetuate. Yaphank, New York, has remained almost exclusively white thanks to a covenant that says that any new home-buyers looking to move into the community must be “of German extraction.” A couple currently residing in the community have filed a complaint against the community organization that continues to enforce the bylaw, claiming that the regulation supports discriminatory housing practices and, thus, violates the Fair Housing Act. Also, it’s worth noting that this was a town here in the United States that once had streets named after Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, and so whatever the cultural heritage this covenant hopes to preserve for people of German descent, it’s got the smell of bad intentions all over it. [NYT]
  • Finally, some local (although not entirely fair housing-related) news! Two Lexington residents have created an app that will take smartphone-equipped denizens on a virtual tour of the city’s architectural history. The developers of the app say the idea was hatched in the aftermath of the demolition of several historic buildings in the center of downtown Lexington. The loss of the buildings, the creators say, may have been averted if more people “knew about the architectural and cultural significance of Lexington’s historic buildings.” As is well-known around Lexington, the block of buildings was destroyed in order to create the maybe-forsaken CentrePointe hotel and business center, which has yet to really be developed beyond the giant crater that now sits where the block of buildings once stood. [Herald Leader]
  • (Photo: “We Need Affordable Housing,” by Brooke Anderson. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Creative Commons.)

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