Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fool's Flop

It's no Paulson’s Palace, I'll tell you that.

At Bunker Hill, public housing gets a private twist 

The twi$t is the poor once-again $ub$idi$ing the rich. Think knife in the back as they preach egalitarianism to your face while shoveling tax loot at them behind your back.

"Housing affordability worsening in Boston area, study says; Demographics don’t match availability" by Deirdre Fernandes, Globe Staff  March 18, 2015

Young adults and their aging parents are engaged in an escalating and increasingly expensive struggle for one of Greater Boston’s scarcest resources: an affordable place to live.

The Boston area’s economy is thriving, but housing is falling short of meeting the needs of residents as the region undergoes major demographic shifts, according to the 12th annual housing report card, to be released Wednesday, by the Boston Foundation, a philanthropy.

Young workers drawn to Boston for its graduate programs and jobs in life sciences and technology are spending a greater share of their incomes to afford rents that are only climbing. In the suburbs, aging baby boomers who want to move to small homes requiring less maintenance but who want to stay in their communities are having a hard time finding alternatives to their Colonials with big yards, the Greater Boston Housing Report Card found.

Hey, it ranks third in the nation in wealth inequality, so what do you expect? At least they are out of the student slums, right?

The report card, prepared by the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, describes a housing market that is increasingly out of synch with the demands of the region.

“It’s frustrating,” said Jennifer Smith, 27, an administrative assistant for a health care company who pays $1,750 a month for a one-bedroom Brighton apartment she and her husband rent. Spending so much on rent makes it difficult to save, Smith said, and they have thought of moving out of state to find cheaper housing.

“We really want to be able to [buy] a house one day,” she said, “but it almost feels like it’s not possible, given the market.”

The number of Boston-area homeowners who are spending more than a third of their income on housing — generally considered the threshold for affordability — has jumped to more than 38 percent from 27 percent in 2000, according to the report. Average rents are at an all-time high of $1,857 a month. More than one in four renters devote half their salaries to housing.

Millennials, those between the ages of 20 and 34, are taking up the three-deckers that used to be the housing stock for the Boston area’s working families, and they are rooming with two or three people per apartment to afford the high rents.

Well, it takes a ‘millennial’ village to get cheap housing in Boston.

As a result, families are being pushed farther out into the suburbs, requiring ever-longer commutes, the report found....

That reminds me, I gotta get going.


I'm $ure $heer con$truction will $olve everything.

"Construction of homes plummeted in February, as fierce winter weather froze housing starts in the Northeast and Midwest."

How is the mud out there?

"Finding a job near home gets tougher; Report says poor are hardest hit" by Paul Wiseman, Associated Press  March 25, 2015

WASHINGTON — James Robertson’s arduous 21-mile daily walk to a low-wage factory job, widely reported last month, is just an extreme version of an increasingly common problem: Finding a job near home is getting harder for millions of American workers. And long commutes are especially tough on the poor and on blacks and Hispanics, a Brookings Institution report Tuesday finds.

This in the midst of a recovery -- sea re told -- holding up the entire world economy. Of course, government and the pre$$ would never lie to us.

For years, analysts and policy makers have worried that jobs were moving to the suburbs and away from the inner-city poor. Elizabeth Kneebone and Natalie Holmes of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program found something new: Jobs and people of all incomes and races are moving from densely populated urban neighborhoods to the sprawling suburbs.

To where?


Increasing sprawl means that nearby jobs can fall even when overall jobs increase.

Have YOU had enough of the mixed me$$age bull$hit?

Kneebone and Holmes recommend that communities within metro areas work together to make sure low-income workers can find and pay for public transportation to take them to distant jobs.

Don't look to Boston for public transportation!

For now, many of the poor struggle to get to work. Harold Carnes, 57, of Las Vegas says he can’t afford to take the bus to his $8.75-an-hour job at McDonald’s. So he rides a bicycle 2½ miles each way, sometimes in temperatures that top 100 degrees.

I rode one for ten years in all types of weather, in the foolish belief I was saving the planet from global warming.

Detroit’s Robertson, 56, got luckier. As the news of his 21-mile daily walk went global, donations poured in, including from a local auto dealer who gave him a new Ford Taurus. 

I don't know if I believe he walks that far. Soon as he gets home he has to leave again. $ucker born every minute.


"More than 13,000 Detroit-area property owners have entered payment plans hoping to avoid losing their homes to tax foreclosure, but about 16,000 living in their homes did not make such arrangements before Tuesday’s deadline. Before the 4:30 p.m. deadline, hundreds of applicants had sat in a hotel ballroom waiting for the chance to plead their cases before Wayne County Treasury workers. More than 60,000 of the county’s 76,000 foreclosed properties are in Detroit, threatening areas hard hit by the national mortgage crisis. City and county officials urged state lawmakers to pass foreclosure-prevention bills and Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation in January that gave homeowners facing financial hardship the option to sign up for a payment plan to avoid foreclosure. The bills also cut interest rates, reduced down payments, and capped past-due taxes."

He should consider himself lucky to have a home! 

Btw, we were told the mortgage and foreclosure crisis was over.


Maybe refinancing will help:

"Refinancing gets a push from Galvin; State fund benefits from required fee" by Deirdre Fernandes, Globe Staff  March 18, 2015

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has become the latest cheerleader for home refinancing, joining the chorus of mortgage lenders urging homeowners to act before interest rates shoot up. The reason: The state stands to make some money.


Galvin’s office oversees many of the state’s registries of deeds, and every time homeowners file mortgage paperwork, they must pay a $5 surcharge into the state’s technology fund, which helps maintain online land records.

What a bunch of money-grubbing $cum!

But with real estate sales flagging in recent years as the result of the housing bust, followed by not enough homes on the market, that technology fund has fallen by about half, to $4.4 million last year from $8.6 million in 2004, the year before housing slide began in Massachusetts.


I was told the recovery of the housing market was a key force behind the alleged recovery -- that is only benefiting the 0.1%, it turns out! 

Btw, that's what bloggers have been saying regarding the false inflation of home prices for years, too.  Now the Globe agrees after years of bull$hit propaganda.

The Massachusetts secretary of state’s website now includes a calculator to help homeowners decide whether refinancing is cost-effective. The state’s registry of deeds website, used in most counties, also has a link to the calculator.

“I don’t think we’re pushing people into anything,” Galvin said. “We’re asking them to evaluate it.”

So we can get $5.

Just because rates are low, however, refinancing may not be the best option for all homeowners, as the last housing bust illustrated, said Gary Klein, a consumer attorney who has represented clients against mortgage lenders.

Yeah, but this state looks out for us, so....

Too many homeowners who refinanced in the boom days cashed out equity as values rose, which many analysts described as using homes like ATMs.

Yeah, that's what began all this debt madne$$. 

When the housing market crashed, these homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their houses were worth, with many ending up in foreclosure.

Klein said consumers should find a trustworthy lender and understand the fees and terms associated with refinancing.

Are there any?

“There are all sorts of pitfalls,” Klein said. “It’s important that people don’t rush into refinancing.”

Not according to the state!

The secretary of state’s website reminds homeowners that refinancing is worthwhile if they can get a new loan with an interest rate that is 2 percentage points lower than their current rate. The site also warns homeowners that refinancing, just like applying for a mortgage, can be a lengthy and expensive process.

But they aren't encouraging you or anything.

Still, there may be only a short window left for homeowners who are thinking of refinancing, Galvin said.

Hurry, hurry, says $cum $hit!! 

I used to like the guy, but now I know why he keeps winning elections.


It isn’t clear how much additional revenue the state might be able to generate from this refinancing push. Many homeowners refinanced in recent years and locked in low rates. Many others took advantage of a rate drop earlier this year.

Nationwide, refinancings during the first week of March hit their lowest level since the beginning of this year as interest rates climbed, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, a Washington trade group.


What is he yelling about?

Related: The Stock Market In 2015 Is Starting To Look Remarkably Similar To The Stock Market In 2008

I thought that was worth yelling about.

"To residents’ relief, Beacon Hill apartments preserved as affordable housing" by Peter Schworm, Globe Staff  March 10, 2015

High on Beacon Hill, on a street lined with high-priced homes, Beacon House has stood for decades as a rare source of low-income housing in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Now the Myrtle Street building, which features well over 100 subsidized apartments for the elderly and disabled, will remain affordable for decades more to come.

Fending off a lucrative bid to buy the building, the nonprofit group Rogerson Communities has purchased the property and will maintain it as affordable in perpetuity, to the great relief of its residents.

“It’s a lifesaver,” said Walter Crowley, 75. “It really is.”

To swing the deal, the affordable housing group received $16.6 million in loans from the state’s housing financing agency and a substantial tax break from the city. Rogerson is also raising $3 million privately, chiefly from Beacon Hill residents who have supported the residence for years.

At a ceremony Tuesday at Beacon House, Rogerson Communities presented Mayor Martin J. Walsh with the key to the property as thanks for his administration’s help in its purchase.

James Seagle, Rogerson’s president, praised the MassHousing agency for lending it the maximum amount and said the city’s tax reduction allowed the group to “borrow the money we needed.”

“Without that, things could have been a whole lot different,” he said.

Of the building’s 135 apartments, 85 are reserved for low-income seniors and 32 are rented to people with low and moderate incomes. The remaining 18 apartments are used by nearby Massachusetts General Hospital for out-of-town patients and visitors who cannot afford a hotel.

The building has provided affordable apartments since the early 1980s, giving low-income residents an opportunity to live in the heart of the city.

Thomas Hopkins, who directs the state’s Architectural Access Board, has lived at Beacon House for 15 years. He described it as the “linchpin” of his success.

“It’s been very meaningful,” said Hopkins, who uses a wheelchair. “I’ve become the citizen I was supposed to because I was able to live a full life.”

Walsh said it was crucial to preserve low-cost housing for seniors, even in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

“You have to be sure there’s a component that’s affordable,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of organizations like this,” he said of Rogerson Communities.

The city agreed to reduce Rogerson’s taxes to ensure the apartments remained affordable, and Walsh praised the agreement as an example of a public-private partnership.

MassHousing announced the $16.6 million in loans in August. The state agency originally financed the property in 1983.

Rogerson serves more than 1,500 Greater Boston families through 26 facilities and programs, including housing, adult day health programs, fitness training, and memory-loss care and treatment.

Residents said they began to hear rumors last year the building could be sold, and some worried about their future.

Crowley, who moved to Beacon House in 2001 and pays $280 a month in rent, said he was thrilled when he heard Rogerson had come up with the money to buy the property.

“It’s a great thing,” he said. “I thought it might be turned into condos.”

The elegant building includes a roof deck, community room, library, and computer lab. Residents say the building has a close-knit feel and its staff members go out of their way to help.

“If you need anything, they’ll help you out,” said Jean Messenger, who has lived at Beacon House for eight years. “They are so kind.”

Seagle praised Beacon Hill residents for their support over the years. In many neighborhoods, residents resist low-income housing developments, he said. But, he said, “It’s not like that here.”

Hal Carroll, a member of the Beacon House Corporation’s board of directors, praised the Walsh administration for rallying to the building’s cause when things looked bleak.

“A year and a half ago, we really didn’t think we would be here,” Carroll said. “Without the city being flexible, it couldn’t have been done.”

Yeah, good thing government is looking out for you all, yup.


Maybe you could flop for free at a friends house:

"Some fortunate Berkshire Hathaway investors at this year’s annual meeting will get the chance to sleep in the same bedroom Warren Buffett did as a boy. The home-sharing service Airbnb is offering a free three-night stay at the Omaha home around the May 2 meeting as a way to promote its services. Shareholders who want to stay at the three-bedroom house must submit short essays and prove they own Berkshire stock. Airbnb is signing up people willing to rent all or part of their homes to help provide rooms for the more than 40,000 people expected to attend this year’s meeting. Buffett has said he hopes Airbnb can help shareholders who don’t want to pay for the expensive three-night minimum stays that some Omaha hotels require during the meeting."

Good meal when you get up, too.

I ended up in Chinatown of all places:

"Chinatown, immigrant haven, fights for its future; Neighborhood confronts a construction boom" by Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff  April 01, 2015

A few blocks from the famous Chinatown gate, past gleaming new high-rises and bustling shops, immigrants recently waged a battle to stay in a graffiti-scarred rowhouse. Paint corroded on the ceiling, the heat sputtered, and fissures criss-crossed the red-brick facade.

But the tenants feared that if they left their rundown home, they might never return to this neighborhood that has long been a haven for new immigrants. Here, grocers, hairdressers, butchers, lawyers, and bankers all speak their language.

“Having a home is really important,” said Pei Ying Yu, one of four residents of 103 Hudson St. who were forced to relocate earlier this year — she hopes temporarily — so the new landlord can make repairs. “We feel like we’re losing our home.”

Boston’s last immigrant enclave in the heart of the city is fighting for its life amid a construction boom, and the shift is setting off a mad scramble to preserve one of the largest Chinatowns in the United States.


Some say Asians are a minority for the first time in Chinatown’s history — even though Asians are one of the fastest-growing groups in Massachusetts.

Comes with being a sanctuary state. Any state document comes with 8 language translations.

Some residents have also criticized the city for green-lighting luxury high rises nearby that are driving up housing prices in Chinatown.

What? That is at total opposites with the propaganda pre$$ mouthpiece! City is helping all you poor folk!

Andrew Leong, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the Boston Public Health Commission said in separate reports that the population of white people grew faster than that of Asians in Chinatown from 2000 to 2010. Now, they say, Asians make up roughly 46 percent of the 12,800 residents.

I'm so tired of being divided by race, gender, etc, by the same people pushing diversity.

Leong said the shift shows Chinatown following a national trend: Working immigrants are being pushed out of downtown neighborhoods close to work and public transportation, while students, doctors, and others move in.

“We’re slowly being gentrified out of existence,” said Leong, an Asian American studies professor who coauthored a 2013 report on Chinatowns. “You’re talking about displacement of those kinds of people that have rented from these unattractive units for decades.”

Other observers, though, say Asians are still the majority of Chinatown’s residents, though their view of the neighborhood is more compact.... 

I suppose it's all how you look at things, pffft!

Tunney Lee, a professor emeritus at MIT and a former BRA official, says Boston’s Chinatown remains strong, fortified by hundreds of units of affordable housing with long wait lists.

I'm sure he's not hurting for a home.

He said Chinatown remains a political and social hub, with nonprofits, schools, and a lively business district that attracts people from all over for dim sum and New Year’s parades.

“The life is in the neighborhood, not just streets,” said Lee, who grew up in Chinatown and later ran MIT’s department of urban studies and planning. “The kids go to school. They go to the gym. They go to the swimming pool. . . . That’s the life of the city. And Chinatown is full of life.”

Everything's all right, everything's fine.

Preserving Chinatown was a major goal in 1990 — the first and last time the City of Boston and Chinatown’s neighborhood groups published a joint blueprint for the neighborhood’s future. They launched the effort after residents rebelled against plans for a hospital parking garage. After losing over half the neighborhood’s land to the hospital and two highways, Chinatown was fed up.

Instead of allowing the parking garage, the city and the neighborhood created an ambitious plan to “protect Chinatown” from real estate speculation. They called for expanding businesses and housing into nearby areas and preserving Chinatown’s history.

Boston’s Chinatown first emerged in the late 1800s as a hub for immigrants who faced intense poverty and discrimination in the United States. Congress severely curtailed Chinese labor migration for over six decades and barred most of those here from bringing their families to join them. After a major immigration raid in Chinatown in 1903, immigrants banded together. They formed family associations to help one another find jobs and housing. Later, nonprofits fought for better living conditions.

But starting in the 1990s, the city’s resurgence attracted new developers. Skyscrapers sprouted, such as the luxury Millennium Tower, with its $37.5 million penthouse.

That's why it is Bo$ton now. I didn't try to find a room, sorry.

In 2010, 47 percent of Chinatown’s housing was considered affordable. With the buildings under construction now, city officials say that share will slip to 36 percent. City officials say newer immigrants are bypassing Chinatown for suburbs such as Malden and Quincy.

Chinatown has held some ground: Boston has created nearly 500 new units of affordable housing in the neighborhood, despite federal budget cuts, in part with financing from the luxury developers, who must contribute to a city housing fund if they do not include low-income housing in their projects.

Chinatown also reclaimed a vacant stretch on Hudson Street where rowhouses were razed for the I-93 Central Artery in the 1950s. When the Big Dig later pushed the highway underground, the lot sat empty.

Some had hoped to rebuild the lost piece of the neighborhood. Instead, crews are finishing One Greenway, a mix of 217 luxury rentals, 95 affordable rentals, and 51 affordable condominiums.

A lottery will determine who moves in, so there is no certainty that it will restore places for Asians who once lived there.

Now you know how Palestinians feel.

Down the street from One Greenway, Pei Ying Yu stuffed her belongings into garbage bags in late January at 103 Hudson St.

The 66-year-old home care worker moved here in 2013 a few years after her son brought her and her husband to America. She tried living near her son in Atlanta, but felt isolated because hardly anyone spoke her language. She found her bearings in 103 Hudson St. Making just $11.40 an hour caring for elderly immigrants, she said she could not afford more.

But the owners, Elizabeth Wing and Youn “Harry” Chung, let the building fall into such disrepair that the city went to court to force them to fix it.


The tenants still hope to return to Chinatown but advocates say there is no guarantee. In 2012, the city evicted 40 to 50 tenants from 25 Harrison Ave. because the city feared the filthy, rat-infested building would collapse. They were moved to public housing in South Boston, where they have since struggled.

And all that money floating around Bo$ton. I see millions and billions being doled out in the bu$ine$$ section every day.

Members of the Chinese Progressive Association said they will march Tuesday from 103 Hudson St. to City Hall to advocate for tenants’ rights, just before a City Council hearing on the high cost of housing and the foreclosure crisis in Boston.

What foreclosure crisis?

Suzanne Lee, a land trust board member, said she fears that developers will chip away at Chinatown if it is not preserved.

Lee remembers how her own father, whom she did not meet until she was 11 because of federal immigration laws, felt at home in Chinatown.

“This is how people looked at Chinatown, as their home,” said Lee, a two-time City Council candidate and the former principal of the neighborhood’s Josiah Quincy Elementary School. “This is why for me preserving it is so important. We cannot let it just disappear like other cities.”  

The article turned from a cla$$ thing to an agenda-pushing immigration piece!


All I can wonder is who would want to break in to a slum?


"Several dozen community activists are urging Mayor Martin J. Walsh to take advantage of the construction boom sweeping Boston by raising fees on developers to pay for affordable housing and job training initiatives."

Good luck.