Bo McCarver’s weekly news compilation – 7/6/2010

Tuesday Report, July 6, 2010

Special to the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service

As the nation’s economy recalibrates from the heady days of the Bush II Administration, housing starts and sales continue to drop while foreclosures rise.

In Texas, millions of federal dollars meant to convert foreclosed homes into dwellings for low-income households languish and may be return unused.

For a pdf version of the full stories, plus contextual articles in social, environmental and legal areas, contact Bo McCarver at bmccarver@austin.rr.ocm

Home Sales and Building Slowed in May

By Christine Hauser       New York Times July 1, 2010

A record drop in pending home sales and a slowdown in the construction market contributed to a sluggish outlook for the economy Thursday, highlighting the significance of government stimulus measures and job growth.

The economic indicators were the latest features that economists and analysts used to gauge the pace of the economic recovery. But all eyes are on the monthly employment figures scheduled for release Friday, which are expected to show a net loss of 125,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in June, and an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, compared with 9.7 percent in May.

According to new statistics, pending homes sales and construction both declined in May. In addition, figures showed that while manufacturers recorded some gains in June, the pace of activity in that sector slowed last month compared with May and also came in slightly below estimates.

Full story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/business/economy/02econ.html?_r=2&hpw

Drop in downtown Fort Worth values could diminish services

By Sandra Baker         Fort Worth Star-Telegram July 1, 2010

Declines in real estate values in downtown Fort Worth could mean less street and sidewalk cleaning services during the next several years, the entity responsible for those duties learned Thursday.

The advisory board for the downtown Public Improvement District No. 1 approved sending to the City Council a $1.66 million budget for fiscal 2011, which is enough to keep services as they are now.

But in a frank discussion regarding revenue projections for the next five years, members said they need to take a more conservative approach to budgeting because of declining values in the downtown real estate market.

Full story at: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/07/01/2309087/drop-in-downtown-fort-worth-values.html

Have homes, will travel

With its way of building structures off-site, modular company aims to shake up the industry

By Nancy Sarnoff       Houston Chronicle July 3, 2010

During a downpour on a recent morning, construction workers were busy putting up a series of buildings in Navasota, a small town about 70 miles northwest of Houston.

The rain didn’t keep the crew at home that day, nor was it slowing the progress of construction. That’s because the work was being done in a 250,000-square-foot warehouse.

“This is a great day to build,” joked Rodney Boehm, chief operating officer of GroundForce, a company that builds modular homes and commercial buildings on wood and concrete slabs and then delivers them on special movers to sites across the state.

Full story at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7092523.html

National Flood Insurance Program extended

By T.J. Aulds Galveston County Daily News July 1, 2010

WASHINGTON — Residents of the Upper Texas Coast got two pieces of good news Wednesday — Hurricane Alex made landfall in Mexico and the U.S. Senate extended the National Flood Insurance Program through the end of September.

Homeowners have been in legislative purgatory since Congress let the program lapse. Since the program expired May 31, homeowners have been unable to buy, renew or change their coverage.

Full story at: http://www.galvnews.com/story/160118

Houston And Texas Letting Money For Low-Income Housing Go To Waste

By Paul Knight       Houston Press July 2, 2010

According to a new report from a low income housing group, the City of Houston may have to repay millions of dollars in federal funds that were meant to clean up neighborhoods hit hardest by foreclosed homes.

“Houston has done demonstratively worse than other places,” John Henneberger, director of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, tells Hair Balls. “It doesn’t look good in Houston for this money being used.”

Full story at: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2010/07/texas_low_income_housing.php

End of the Road for Eastside Urban Renewal?

By Lee Nichols      Austin Chronicle June 2, 2010

So what are the odds that the tri-party agreement between the Austin Revitalization Authority, the Urban Renewal Board, and the city of Austin will survive past the end of October, when it’s due to expire? Apparently not high, if one judges by comments last week from members of the URB.

The agreement, which makes ARA the lead developer for trying to revitalize and protect the culture of the East 11th and East 12th corridors, has been maligned by many for failing to deliver on that goal, as ARA has accomplished a few projects on 11th but very little on 12th Street. Back in April, the Robertson Hill and Swede Hill neighborhood associations called for an end to the deal, in which the city provides substantial operational funding to the ARA.

More recently, URB Chair Ben Sifuentes said he’s done with the tri-party and even thinks the URB itself, which oversees the 11th and 12th streets project, should go.

Full story at: http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A1047090

Notorious apartment complex to be razed in Houston

By Bradley Olson         Houston Chronicle July 5, 2010

A blighted Houston apartment complex that has been vacant for 20 years is scheduled to be demolished at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“This is one of the worst examples of neglectful ownership that I have seen,” Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement today, adding that the owner of the property had failed to improve its condition despite receiving numerous chances. “The property is a neighborhood eyesore and a public safety risk.”

The 43-unit complex, located at 7410 Park Place Blvd., was the subject of an extended story in the Houston Chronicle in February that showed it to be a magnet for crimes involving drugs and prostitution. It is one of thousands of abandoned properties all over Houston that city officials and police have found to be dangerous and in need of demolition.

Full story at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7095061.html

Affordable housing in Las Cruces put on hold

Las Cruces Sun-News July 3, 2010

LAS CRUCES — A developer has put plans for a 60-unit affordable housing project in Las Cruces on hold.

The developers, Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico, notified officials in Las Cruces that they were unable to secure money needed to build the $6.5 million project.

City neighborhood development coordinator David Dollahon says the partnership did not receive federal low income housing tax credits this year for the proposed project.

He says the partnership intends to pursue the funding next year.

The Las Cruces City Council had chosen the former site of a city office center as the possible location for an affordable housing project.

Dollahon says the housing coalition is still interested in the property.

[End of story: http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_15445795]

To Arlington homeowners’ dismay, feral hogs expanding their territory

By Bill Hanna         Fort Worth Star-Telegram July 5, 2010

ARLINGTON — Sharon Taylor stepped out of her Arlington home last week to find her flower beds looking like a war zone.

Her begonias were gone, her mulch was a mess and the special organic mix was apparently viewed as a delicacy by the unwanted intruders.

So Taylor, 63, who owns a landscape company, spent several hundred dollars replanting the big beds in the front of her home.

The next day, she was hit again.

All told, her beds were torn up four out of five nights last week, and there’s no doubt who is to blame.

“I am so upset about these damn pigs I don’t know what to do,” said Taylor, who has lived in the Parkway North neighborhood since 1979.

To Arlington officials, it isn’t a surprise.

Feral hogs have been causing problems at River Legacy Parks, next door to Taylor’s neighborhood, for several years, uprooting vegetation and occasionally scaring a hiker or jogger on the trails.

Full story at: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/07/05/2314653/to-arlington-homeowners-dismay.html