Smart growth news – January 13, 2012

Rents heading higher for third straight year
USA Today – January 12, 2012

The firm, which surveys 20,000 properties a month, expects apartment rents to jump 5.5 percent in 2012. MPF Research sees a 4.5 percent increase, while researcher Reis expects a 3 percent increase, although that forecast may change, says senior economist Ryan Severino.

Chamber’s Donohue Pushes Six-Year Transport Plan
Journal of Commerce – January 12, 2012

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue said on Thursday Congress should pass a long-term surface transportation bill that mirrors the six-year highway plan that expired in 2009, rather than the stripped-down versions proposed by the House and Senate.

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Smart growth news – January 12, 2012

House Democrats want new housing regulator
Reuters – January 12, 2012

The group of 28 Democrats, led by Representative Dennis Cardoza, are all from California, which has been hard hit by the housing market’s collapse. In their letter, the lawmakers urged Obama to replace Edward DeMarco as acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and to immediately nominate a new director.

Three Cities, Three Tales of Tenuous Transit Plans
Forbes – January 11, 2012

While Cullen and his coalition finalize their pitch, two other metropolitan areas are wrestling with projects more emblematic of how urban regions try to get transit off the ground. And each has its own considerable hurdles.

Mobile changes master plan to focus on Smart Growth principles
Alabama Press Register – January 11, 2012

Walkability, mixed land-use and other Smart Growth principles are now officially part of Mobile’s master plan, which is meant to guide development in the city.

Mill redevelopment in Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill coming back strong after recession
The Boston Globe – January 12, 2012

“These mills were always the engine of our economy,’’ Blanchette said. “In Lawrence, they definitely have gone through the oil change because the engines are back and full of life.’’

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Smart growth news – January 11, 2012

Republican Senators Say Fed Overstepped Its Role With Advice on Housing
Bloomberg – January 10, 2012

Hatch, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said the housing study sent by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to Congress last week, along with recent Fed speeches, “intrudes too far into fiscal policy advice and advocacy.” Corker said New York Fed President William C. Dudley’s suggestion last week that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reduce the principal of the loans they guarantee was “absolutely egregious.”

Bernanke Doubles Down on Fed Bet Defied by Recession: Mortgages
Bloomberg Business Week – January 11, 2012

Even as Bernanke and fellow U.S. central bankers consider expanding their efforts, they are acknowledging their inability to turn around the housing market without help from the rest of the government. Bernanke underscored the importance of residential real estate, which represents 15 percent of the economy, in a study he sent to Congress last week that said ending the slump is necessary for a broader recovery.

Why Do Some Neighborhoods Get Overrun With Chain Stores, While Others Don’t?
Atlantic Cities – January 10, 2012

Not surprisingly, neighborhoods that become more affluent over time gain greater access to retail and a greater variety of outlets.

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Smart growth news – January 10, 2012

White House wants to convert foreclosed houses to rentals
MSNCBC – January 9, 2012

The Obama administration, in conjunction with federal regulators and led by the overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are very close to announcing a pilot program to sell government-owned foreclosures in bulk to investors as rentals, according to administration officials.

Factbox: Fed doves look to spur housing, hawks balk
Reuters – January 9, 2012

Federal Reserve officials are divided over the need for more accommodation to ensure the economic recovery gains enough velocity to pull free from its stop and start slog, despite rock-bottom interest rates for more than three years and $2.3 trillion in bond purchases designed to stimulate growth.

The Fed’s Housing Politics
Wall Street Journal – January 10, 2012

These columns have defended the independence of the Federal Reserve from attacks on the right and left, but after last week the central bank is on its own. It’s impossible to defend the Fed’s rank electioneering as it lobbies for more political and taxpayer intervention in the housing market—just in time for the election campaign.

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Smart growth news – January 9, 2012

Fed treads new path with US housing push
Reuters – January 9, 2012

The Federal Reserve has launched a potentially controversial push to revive the battered U.S. housing market, calling on other government officials to act after largely exhausting its own tools to support the fragile economic recovery.

REO To Rental Fed Plan Would Do Little For Housing, Says Goldman Sachs
Huffington Post – January 6, 2012

The Federal Reserve’s foreclosure rental program would do little to lift the ailing housing market, Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a research paper released on Friday morning.

Several Major Housing Policy Changes That Could Be Coming Soon
Business Insider – January 9, 2012

It appears there are several major housing policy changes coming in the next two to three months, and that the overall goal will be to reduce the large backlog of seriously delinquent loans while, at the same time, not flood the housing market with distressed homes.

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Smart growth news – January 6, 2012

Ben Bernanke’s Solution To The Housing Crisis: Renting Foreclosed Homes

Huffington Post – January 5, 2012
While millions of foreclosed homes languish on the market at lower and lower prices, new data supports the idea that renting out these foreclosed homes could be the long-sought solution to the housing crisis. Rental units are leasing quickly, and the vacancy rate for apartments is at its lowest level in a decade, according to data released Thursday. In many areas, rents are rising.

Washington Wades Deeper into Housing
BusinessWeek – January 5, 2012

Lawmakers began 2011 with sweeping ambitions to shrink the U.S. government’s involvement in mortgage finance. They ended the year enacting policies that increase it. An 11th-hour extension of the payroll tax cut, signed into law on Dec. 23, will for the first time divert funds from Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), the two mortgage finance companies under U.S. conservatorship, to pay for general government expenses. Congress also took steps that are likely to increase the role of the Federal Housing Administration in the market—at the same time that the agency’s reserves hit a record low. And some economists are charging that the FHA’s finances are even worse than they appear.

Conservative Pols Hate Government Subsidies, Unless They Subsidize Sprawl
DC Streets – January 5, 2012

For a place that’s on the forefront of a heavily-subsidized brand of taxpayer-funded suburban sprawl, Celina is steeped in the kind of conservative politics that generally eschews government subsidies.

Schumer: ‘I’m going to lead fight’ on commuter tax break
The Hill – January 6, 2012

Schumer suggested that Thursday that lawmakers should use a package of pending tax breaks to extend a provision from the 2009 economic stimulus package that allowed public transit users to set aside $230 per month before taxes for commuting expenses. Because Congress has not yet extended the provision, which expired on Jan. 1, the limit was reduced to $125 at the beginning of the new year.

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