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Ensuring Quality of Life in Housing Projects

About this post: Empower homeowners and tenants with the Housing Policy Toolkit for safer, improved living. Enhance quality without compromising affordability.

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In Housing Projects, When problems with quality and safety are ignored, they can endanger the lives of inhabitants, especially young children and the elderly. However, solving these problems is not always easy. Fearing eviction from their only affordable housing alternative, renters may be hesitant to report inadequate or unsafe conditions to code enforcement officials or other local workers. As people age, they often find themselves without the financial means or physical strength to complete home improvements.

It is important to keep in mind that while negligence may be to blame in some circumstances, in others, landlords who charge less for their apartments simply do not have the money to invest in maintenance. It’s possible that owners won’t be able to find a lender willing to finance the necessary modifications if rent prices remain stagnant. Owners, even those with the best of intentions, may struggle to afford the cost of repairs in areas with higher poverty and vacancy rates because they cannot raise the rent to levels that the market would allow.

This article is part of our guide “How Executive Directive 1 (ED1) is Shaping LA’s Future”

Housing Projects: Using the Housing Policy Toolkit to Boost Quality and Safety

There are a number of options available to homeowners and tenants to enhance the quality and security of their dwellings:

Keep an eye on the state of the housing stock.

Housing inspections and code enforcement are sometimes done in a reactive way – that is, only after a neighbor complains a nuisance property. Communities can take preventative measures to guarantee the security and quality of their Housing Projects stock rather than reacting to problems as they develop. For example, every two years, a city may examine all multifamily rental properties for code breaches that could endanger the safety of tenants or the building’s structural integrity. Inspections and code enforcement can be more efficient if cities use new data sources to narrow in on problem areas. Community groups can be trained by local governments to undertake windshield surveys of the area and report on the most pressing code breaches.

Collaborate with property owners to fix code infractions.

Existing housing stock can be kept habitable with the aid of code enforcement. However, an overly stringent or punitive approach to compliance may lead to the loss of much-needed affordable Housing Projects in high-cost cities, towns, and counties. Code enforcement strategies that (a) prioritizes helping property owners remedy code violations rather than penalizing them and (b) facilitates transfers of ownership to mission-focused organizations that will preserve affordability when existing owners fail to make improvements to address health and safety concerns are viable options for high-cost jurisdictions to consider if they want to promote safety while minimizing losses to the affordable inventory. Repairs and improvements that increase the safety and quality of older properties may not trigger the potentially cost-prohibitive requirements to bring the properties up to current standards, but local governments can change building rules to allow for them.

Help or incentivize landlords of affordable rental properties to make necessary repairs.

Without financial aid from the government, owners of small and medium-sized housing developments that rent at reasonable levels may struggle to perform repairs and modifications while still maintaining cheap rents. Property owners can improve the quality and safety of their buildings without having to raise rents to meet the costs, thanks to local initiatives that provide tax advantages or access to money for renovations in exchange for a pledge to ongoing affordability. Communities should prioritize initiatives that address potentially life-threatening situations when funds are scarce.

Back efforts to revitalize public and low-income housing that has fallen on hard times.

There is a need for substantial investment in modernizing many older public Housing Projects buildings. Accessing private capital and redeveloping these properties to provide a healthier and safer living environment may be possible for public housing agencies and private owners if they convert to project-based vouchers or project-based rental assistance through the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. Some privately owned affordable buildings are eligible for RAD, while other affordable properties may choose to pursue Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other subsidies.

Assist the elderly in making house improvements.

Older homeowners on a fixed income may have difficulties financing the cost of routine home maintenance, and may be unable to take care of repairs on their own. Neglected activities, such as changing a lightbulb in a dark corridor or mending a damaged stair railing, can become major health dangers for these individuals and families, potentially leading to injury and even hospitalization. People with mobility problems or other disabilities may have trouble staying safe in their own homes without assistance making necessary changes. Programs like property tax relief and circuit breakers can reduce property taxes, freeing up money that can then be put toward repairs; programs like weatherization and homeowner rehab assistance can then provide that money in the form of direct aid for the work that needs to be done.

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