Top 20 Suburbs With Larger Than Average Apartments


The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating demand for spacious apartments as renters seek a new lease on life with extra rooms, a dedicated place for an office and more outdoor space.

RENTCafe looked at the 30 most populous metro areas to determine where the largest apartments are in each metro. The national rental listing service based its findings on the average size of apartments in buildings of 50 or more units.

At the top of the crop, the city of Johns Creek in the Atlanta metro area has the largest apartments, with an average unit size of 1,225 square feet. The second-largest apartments are in Wellington, Florida, in the Miami metro area. Lake Wylie in the Charlotte, South Carolina area has the third-most spacious apartments. These are the only cities with average apartment sizes larger than 1,200 square feet. 

Sanziana Bona, a research analyst at RENTCafe, explained that in many of the 30 locations surveyed, high-end buildings—Class B and above—are dominant.

“These suburbs are not necessarily suburbs, but rather fringe areas which border the urban core cities, therefore offering the renters the possibility of living just close enough to downtown, while benefiting from a larger apartment,” she said.

When RENTCafe delved into the general location data of each of these markets, it found that the majority of the residents are Millennials or members of Generation X, and that in each of the suburbs, the average income is above the national median income. Some areas show a majority of high earners.

“This indicates how renters today don’t want to give up on the downtown completely, but also don’t want to live there either, so they look at the closest area possible,” said Bona. “Another reason why renters might be tempted to opt for these fringe areas is due to the predominance of fiber optics and digital broadband, which make these locations great for those looking to embrace a home office due to high-speed internet, and the extra space of a larger apartment.”

Looking at the densities of the cities in the study, the researchers found they are relatively lower than their core cities.

“In fact, all have lower densities than the core cities of the metros of which they are part of, by an average of 4,400 fewer people per square mile,” said Bona. “The largest difference in density is the New York metro where Avenel, New Jersey has about 23,000 fewer people per square mile than New York City. However, there are also some cases where there is a higher density in the city with the largest apartments as opposed to the core city, such as Spring Valley and Las Vegas, where there are about 1,600 more people per square mile.”

Here are the best options for spacious apartments in each of the top 20 metro areas:

1. Johns Creek, Georgia, north of Atlanta 

Average apartment size: 1,225 square feet

Atlanta average apartment size: 978 square feet

2. Wellington, Florida, north of Miami

Average apartment size: 1,208 square feet

Miami average apartment size: 890 square feet

3. Lake Wylie, South Carolina, southwest of Charlotte

Average apartment size: 1,205 square feet

Charlotte average apartment size: 941 square feet

4. Pikesville, Maryland, northwest of Baltimore

Average apartment size: 1,185 square feet

Baltimore average apartment size: 825 square feet

5. Longwood, Florida, north of Orlando

Average apartment size: 1,178 square feet

Orlando average apartment size: 958 square feet

6. Avenel, New Jersey, southwest of New York City

Average apartment size: 1,176 square feet

New York City average apartment size: 748 square feet

7. Park Forest, Illinois, south of Chicago

Average apartment size: 1,168 square feet

Chicago average apartment size: 742 square feet

8. Bear, Delaware, southwest of Philadelphia

Average apartment size: 1,141 square feet

Philadelphia average apartment size: 808 square feet

9. Rancho Palos Verdes, California, south of Los Angeles

Average apartment size: 1,133 square feet

Los Angeles average apartment size: 791 square feet

10. Woodbury, Minnesota, east of Minneapolis 

Average apartment size: 1,123 square feet

Minneapolis average apartment size: 786 square feet

Rounding out the rest of the top 20 were Edwardsville, Illinois, northeast of St. Louis, at 1,119 square feet; Oxford, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati, at 1,112 square feet; Wildomar, California, south of Riverside metro, at 1,103 square feet; Southfield, Michigan, northwest of Detroit, at 1,103 square feet; Issaquah, Washington, east of Seattle, at 1,088 square feet; Trinity, Florida, northwest of Tampa, at 1,073 square feet; Camp Springs, Maryland, southeast of Washington D.C., at 1,055 square feet; Prosper, Texas, north of Dallas, at 1,051 square feet; West Linn, Oregon, south of Portland, at 1,050 square feet; and Greenwood Village, Colorado, south of Denver, at 1,029 square feet.



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National Apartment Association Joins Lawsuit Challenging CDC National Eviction Moratorium


The National Apartment Association (NAA) announced today that it is taking legal action against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its nationwide eviction moratorium, joining the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) in its lawsuit challenging the legality of the federal agency’s order.

The NAA reiterated its argument that federal agencies do not have powers to waive state laws and that the CDC has encroached on private property rights with no legal authority. 

Rental housing industry advocates maintain that they should not be held responsible for solving the nation’s housing crisis and that government agencies should not trade one crisis for another.

The NAA and NCLA, a non-partisan, non-profit civil rights group, contend that the CDC’s order directly harms the apartment industry and jeopardizes the long-term viability of rental housing.

The lawsuit, Richard Lee Brown, et al. v. Secretary Alex Azar, et al., argues that rental housing providers, especially small mom-and-pop owners, have been irreparably damaged by the CDC order and its overreach because they do not have the ability to absorb delinquent rent and still pay their bills required to keep communities operational and tenants in their apartment homes. 

Rental housing advocates say the moratorium is overly burdensome and undermines their obligations to provide safe and affordable housing. They assert that many rental housing providers are unable to collect rent under the order, including rental debt, which limits their ability to pay taxes, mortgages, insurance and utilities and provide contracted services to other residents who have paid their rent. 

“Eviction moratoria saddle the apartment industry solely with the responsibility of offering a service without compensation, all while operating at a potential deficit,” said Bob Pinnegar, NAA president and CEO. “Rental housing works on extremely narrow margins and, though last paid themselves, owners still need to pay extensive bills.” 

Throughout the economic crisis unleashed by Covid-19, NAA has called for direct rental assistance, claiming that is the only policy that keeps people housed and directly addresses the needs of owners and operators alike.

In an official statement, NAA said, “Despite continued calls for this much needed relief from a chorus of voices, including renter advocates and real estate groups, Congress has failed to enact direct rental assistance. This inaction, paired with the CDC eviction moratorium, devastates the industry in the short-term and furthers the housing affordability crisis, to the detriment of the broader economy in the long-term.”

Pinnegar warned that the CDC’s action should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans.

“A nationwide eviction moratorium without any kind of financial or direct rental assistance will exacerbate the nation’s housing affordability crisis and reverberate into national, state and local economies,” he said. “If owners and operators cannot pay their bills – including apartment staff payroll, taxes, mortgages and insurance – rental units lose financial viability and money stops flowing to other sectors of the economy. Further, many rental housing units may be permanently lost from our already insufficient housing stock, whether by foreclosure, government liens or even the sale of the property.”



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How San Francisco’s Tenant Protection Policy Is Stabilizing Low-Income Communities


The words San Francisco and affordable typically aren’t used in the same sentence, at least when it comes to the housing market. But a program called Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) changes the way in which multifamily rental projects and certain vacant lots can be sold in San Francisco. 

Since its launch in 2019, COPA has been providing certain nonprofit organizations with first dibs on purchasing multifamily residential buildings and the right to match a private buyer’s offer. 

The idea behind this built-in advantage for nonprofits was that it would prevent rampant speculation, preserve existing affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods and ensure community stability.

The San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund (SFHAF), a public-private partnership, provides flexible loans to nonprofit community partners so they can compete with market-rate development corporations to purchase buildings for low-income residents vulnerable to displacement. 

With financial assistance from SFHAF, the nonprofits buy the buildings, complete extensive repair work and operate them as permanently affordable housing.

“The Housing Accelerator Fund aims to preserve or develop 1,500 affordable housing units in its first five years,” said Rebecca Foster, chief executive of SFHAF. “We help keep low-income renters who are at risk of displacement in their homes, enable working families to live in the city, and stabilize — and ultimately revitalize — economically distressed areas.”  

Currently, eight qualified nonprofits are on the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development’s list to exercise rights of first offer and refusal as allowed under the program. SFHAF’s partner, Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), has been successful at responding to building owners’ notifications that their buildings are up for sale, as COPA requires. 

During the pandemic, MEDA has bought six small residential buildings serving tenants at risk of displacement through COPA transactions. SFHAF provided bridge financing for all of the transactions, ensuring that MEDA had access to resources to make attractive offers to sellers and then quickly close the deals.

The Housing Accelerator Fund explains that those seeking to protect affordable housing in San Francisco must maneuver through three challenges: a fast-moving market that requires a transactional speed for which the nonprofits initially weren’t set up well to handle, lack of funding and the small number of nonprofits pursuing these acquisitions.

The Accelerator Fund’s focus on providing bridge loans to nonprofits in a critical window of opportunity helped them make offers at the speed of the market. 

“The nonprofits responded accordingly by becoming skilled at putting in offers on buildings quickly and efficiently,” explained Foster. “What COPA has really done is slow down the market, which allows a very limited number of participating nonprofits to be more selective in applying the limited resources they have. Even with these obstacles cleared, the availability of long-term funding remains a constraint in nonprofits’ ability to acquire sites in the private market without disadvantage.”

Victoria Joseph, senior vice president at Citi Community Investing and Development, said the Housing Accelerator Fund is at the forefront of implementing COPA by helping provide resources – financial and otherwise – to nonprofits trying to capitalize on this new advantage. 

 “Citi has provided funding and expertise to SFHAF, committing $60 million in loans to date,” said Joseph. “Since 2017, SFHAF has closed on 21 building loans, three loans for development on underutilized land and has an outstanding lending portfolio totaling over $100 million.” 

The Housing Accelerator’s programs have helped to preserve over 300 existing affordable homes and are assisting with an additional 600 new affordable homes through construction. More than 1,000 San Francisco residents are served through these investments.

Sandra Lee Fewer, District 1 representative of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, proposed the COPA legislation in December 2018 as a means of stabilizing communities by preventing tenant displacement and preserving affordable housing. 

Fewer’s bill was based on successful precedents in other cities, most notably in Washington D.C., which has had a first-right of refusal ordinance for over 30 years. Similar policies are in force in various forms in Boston, Chicago, and Seattle.

Rent-controlled apartments have become a prime target for speculation in San Francisco. Until recent years, when long-term landlords sold their buildings, their primary market was to other investors seeking ongoing rental income.

Lately, however, speculators and cash buyers have been swooping in to buy these rent-controlled buildings by using common tactics such as evicting tenants under the Ellis Act, owner move-ins, harassment tactics or buying the properties with the intention of flipping them, renting them at market rates or converting them to TICs (tenancy in common housing), condos or tech dorms.

Prior to the COPA initiative, a clear pathway didn’t exist to allow nonprofits to buy such buildings, even if they had the means to match the seller’s price. A speculator or cash buyer was able to out-maneuver a community entity wishing to buy the building in the tenants’ interest.

The COPA law addresses the need to balance the playing field so the nonprofit community can adequately compete, without disadvantage, on the open market in acquiring rental buildings when they are put up for sale.

Elizabeth Bell, 74, has lived in the Mission District of San Francisco since 1986. “When I learned my building was for sale, my mind immediately flashed to location, location, location,” she said. “I’m two blocks from the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, so I knew the developers would be all over this building. As a senior, it’s important for me to be close to transportation. I’m also part of the Mission community. I raised my daughter here.” 

Bell contacted the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and MEDA when she found out her building was for sale.  

“I’m so happy that I reached out, which was on the advice of housing activists I knew from the neighborhood, and that MEDA responded,” said Bell during a conversation in March, a few weeks after MEDA succeeded in purchasing her building.

Over the years, she noticed that many of the neighborhood’s longtime dwellers, such as artists, poets and residents from Latin America, were leaving the Mission District, seeking cheaper housing alternatives in other locations.

 “I stopped seeing them around,” said Bell. “I’d run into them at an event and they’d tell me, ‘I had to move to Berkeley,’ ‘I had to move to LA.’ It has been scary to see the businesses and the arts spaces vanish little by little. The cafe scene has greatly dwindled. Still, the bilingual schools my daughter went to are still here with a new crop of students. The cultural center still has exhibits and performances. There are still rumbas almost every Sunday in different places, poetry readings are still happening. That’s my community, and I want to stay here. I want it to stay alive.”



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Ex-NFL Players Look To Tackle Inner-City Challenges By Transforming Abandoned Properties


Former NFL athletes Garry Gilliam and Karlos Dansby have joined forces in a national effort to revitalize underserved neighborhoods by transforming abandoned properties such as schools, shopping centers and warehouses into sustainable, mixed-use eco-villages with housing, retail, co-working, urban agriculture, education centers and entertainment facilities. 

For example, a high school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that has been vacant since 2013, will ultimately foster constructive collaboration.

The sprawling 115,000-square foot building is set to undergo a major transformation into an eco-village with housing, retail, co-working spaces, aquaponics farms, and medical and entertainment facilities. 

The Bridge, a startup cofounded last year by CEO Gilliam and chief operations officer Corey Dupree, has leased the building and will advance plans for a co-working office space that is part of the broader eco-village plan. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for October.

The Ultimate Fan, founded in 2016 by Dansby and chairman and CEO Theodore Holloway, shares a similar mission of giving back to communities in need by empowering and uplifting those held back by poverty.

It deploys athletes, entertainers and developers with a “build and fill” business model, encouraging those stakeholders to design, build, own and operate business and land development projects. Both organizations hope to spark a movement for entrepreneurs to develop thriving, sustainable communities globally.

Gilliam said The Bridge initiative has been long in the making. “The Bridge is something that we have been working on and building for about a year and a half now, before the magnified issues of Covid and the Black Lives Matter movement,” he said. 

“Issues like systematic racism or systematic oppression are issues that have been in place for hundreds of years in this country,” Gilliam explained. “There have been attempts to try and deconstruct that system, and some elements have changed, but there are also things that have gotten worse such as redlining and food deserts in a lot of school districts that don’t have funding coming to them due to their property values and homeownership levels. The Bridge is an observation of the past and an answer to solve issues that have been occurring for a while, as well as issues that Covid and the Black Lives Matter movement have magnified.” 

Gilliam pointed out that The Bridge believes the way to combat systemic oppression is to counter it with a range of initiatives.

“We aren’t just putting a Band-Aid on the systematic issues that are present in our society,” said Gilliam. “We are really getting down to the root of these issues and creating solutions for them. The Bridge has five branches known as WELLP: Work, Eat, Live, Learn and Play. Each of these branches attacks the issues many inner cities face by providing valuable resources to the community.”

The organization seeks to acquire 5 to 30 acres in Harrisburg for sustainable eco-village campuses that will produce healthy fresh food, clean water and renewable energy. Development plans include co-working space, housing units, commercial, retail, entertainment and indoor urban agriculture as part of an agro-food tech innovation center. 

Dupree believes the vacant high school is the obvious place to start. “Harrisburg is our home,” he said. “It’s the epitome of where The Bridge pilot location should be. In saying this, I mean it is a food desert, has a low rate of homeownership and has a disturbingly low state ranking in the education system, even though it is a capital city.”

Gilliam said Harrisburg has a legacy of systemic oppression. “There’s clear evidence of redlining,” he said. “There is one grocery store within the city limits, the school system is ranked in the bottom five of the state, and homeownership levels are extremely low. Building The Bridge in Harrisburg will produce quantifiable results. We know since we lived there that it will progress the city, and eventually other cities as well.”  

The Bridge has a bold vision for economic renewal. Gilliam explained, “We are providing quality adult education that often is not provided in inner-city public schools due to lack of resources, transforming food deserts into food oases by growing food on site and providing groceries for the community, offering different types of housing from affordable to upper class with a heavy focus on workforce housing, offering a co-working space for entrepreneurs in the area and providing entertainment for the community with our arcade, which will feature a lot of virtual reality.”  

Through incubator spaces and community partnerships, The Bridge seeks to provide workforce preparedness for the community.  

“We plan on working with local contractors to hopefully take on apprentices, in some regard, to help them become more skilled in their crafts,” said Dupree. “This creates not only jobs, but more importantly, bosses and business owners.” 

Gilliam added, “The Bridge will focus on workforce preparedness in our Learn branch which will lean heavily into workforce development, job training, sustainable business practices, financial literacy courses and more. The Bridge will lay the foundation for people to create jobs and businesses, not just having a job within the community.”



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New Eviction Moratorium Leaves Landlords In Limbo


An eviction moratorium issued Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is drawing a chorus of disapproval from rental housing advocates who say the action is overly burdensome and interferes with their own obligations to provide safe and affordable housing.

The moratorium halts evictions for renters who expect to earn less than $99,000 this year on their own or less than $198,000 if they file jointly. It also applies to any renter who did not report income in 2019 or received a stimulus check earlier this year. 

To qualify, tenants must provide a sworn declaration that states an eviction would leave them homeless or force them into “close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting,” and they must affirm that they have used “best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.”

Unless the CDC order is extended, changed or ended, the order prevents tenants from being evicted or removed from where they are living through December 31. Tenants are still required to pay accrued rent and could be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent.

Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said its members are deeply concerned with the CDC order because of “the potential to decimate the rental housing industry.” 

“Without direct rental assistance, rents cannot be paid, and owners face a financial crisis of their own by not being able to maintain properties and pay their mortgages or property taxes,” he explained. “This action risks creating a cascade that will further harm the economy, amplify the housing affordability crisis and destroy the rental housing industry. This global housing crisis cannot be blamed on the rental housing industry, nor can the industry bear the brunt of the pandemic alone. We need balanced, reasonable solutions for all Americans.”

Pinnegar said the government has unilaterally enacted a moratorium until the end of the year and could use similar authority to extend it further into 2021.

“Forcing an entire industry to subsidize its residents could lead to extensive foreclosures, which will cost people jobs, homes and retirements,” he said. “It could affect millions of Americans in a very negative way.”

The National Rental Home Council said the eviction ban leaves landlords with two grim options — go deeper into debt or sell.

“America needs sensible, well-constructed rental assistance programs that provide immediate relief to both renters and landlords,” NRHC stated. “That’s the only way to bring any sense of certainty to the rental housing market.”

“This moratorium also capitalizes on the false narrative that landlords are lining up at the courthouse to file eviction notices,” said the trade association, adding that “the exact opposite is true.”

“Many landlords have created flexible payment plans, allowed tenants to access security deposits and waived fees,” according to NRHC. “It’s not quite clear how the administration expects these landlords to cover their mortgage payments, property taxes, community fees and maintenance costs. With no corresponding ban on foreclosures, mortgage holders still can and will foreclose on landlords who can’t meet their financial obligations.”

A study in July by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals found that 39% of landlords with fewer than 20 units were worried about being able to cover their operating costs over the next quarter.

Congress has yet to adopt a new aid package that would provide broad economic relief for Americans hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

“An eviction moratorium, especially one that encompasses nearly all renters, is overreaching,” said Pinnegar. “Our members have been working with their residents on payment plans and connecting them with organizations that provide rental assistance, but some residents will view an eviction moratorium as a rent holiday and reduce the industry’s ability to provide that assistance.”

He added, “Rental housing providers don’t want to evict anyone. It is an action of last resort. However, an extended moratorium will force many to operate housing at a deficit. Owners will have to find ways to cut costs, which means delaying maintenance when possible, potentially laying off the staff that keeps properties running and, in some cases, being unable to pay the mortgage or property taxes.”

“We realize that not all residents are not going to pay, but this is not a high-margin business,” explained Pinnegar. “If they lose 10% to 15% of their revenue through people not paying, it is going to wreak havoc on the industry.”

Phillip Kash, a partner at urban planning firm HR&A Advisors, and his colleagues have worked on housing eviction prevention efforts across the country.

For example, in Wake County, North Carolina, the local government collaborated with HR&A Advisors on an intervention program. The three-step program offers eviction prevention, which aims to provide financial assistance to tenants and landlords to cover rent shortfalls resulting from a loss of income; eviction mediation services, which provide pro bono legal support through a partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina for tenants who need legal counsel to negotiate settlements with their landlords; and relocation assistance, which will provide transitional services and relocation support to residents whose housing could not be stabilized through the interventions.

Unlike similar programs that some local and state governments have pursued elsewhere, the Wake County program asks landlords to share in the cost of recovery by forgiving a portion of rent owed. In this way, the program asks renters to contribute a portion of their reduced income and distributes the remaining rental costs between their landlords and the county’s emergency rental assistance funds. This also reduces the total public funds needed to prevent eviction, allowing the county to serve more households.

In New Haven, Connecticut, city officials estimate 8,000 to 10,000 families could be subject to some form of housing insecurity given their precarious financial state related to COVID-19-connected job losses.

“It will be one of the most significant things we face as a city and a state over the course of the fall and the winter, dealing with families who are facing true economic crisis,”  Michael Piscitelli, economic development administrator, told the New Haven Register.

The city has announced it will use $800,000 of its federal CARES funding to help about 300 families and homeowners resolve back rent and mortgage issues.



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Hurricane Laura Leaves A Trail Of Economic Uncertainty In Its Wake


Hurricane Laura, the most intense hurricane to make landfall along the northwestern Gulf Coast since 1856, brings the threat of further economic uncertainty to the region. 

Data by CoreLogic, a global real estate and data analytics provider, has shown natural disasters cause a spike in mortgage delinquencies, which suggests Hurricane Laura will add to the economic hardship families are already experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Areas in Louisiana and Texas are estimated to have $8 billion to $12 billion in insured property loss for wind and storm surge. The majority of the losses that took place were due to wind, with storm surge contributing to less than $0.5 billion of the total losses.

In addition to property damage, the ability to make loan payments can become compromised after a hurricane. Two of the hardest-hit metro areas have overall home mortgage delinquency rates — 30 or more days past due, including those in foreclosure — above the national rate of 7.3%, with 9.3% of Beaumont, Texas, mortgages delinquent and 9.5% of Lake Charles, Louisiana, mortgages delinquent, based on the May CoreLogic Loan Performance Insights report. 

A federal eviction moratorium offers some relief. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced on Thursday that it has extended its moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions for properties backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac until at least December 31. The current moratoriums were set to expire August 31.

Hurricane Laura weakened as it moved over land, which safeguarded some metro areas from the full impact of a landfalling Category 4 hurricane. As the hurricane approached the Gulf Coast, the storm’s center struck a more sparsely populated area of the Louisiana and Texas coast. 

“There is never a good place for a hurricane to make landfall, but this was the best possible outcome because it spared the major population centers of Houston and New Orleans,” said Curtis McDonald, meteorologist and senior product manager of CoreLogic.



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HUD Awards $472 Million In CARES Act Funding To Support Public Housing Authorities


The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it will provide a new round of emergency relief funding for eligible low-income families and individuals living in public housing. The $472 million in funds, made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will be awarded to public housing authorities across the nation.

The funding can be used for a variety of pandemic-related reasons, including helping families assisted by Housing Choice vouchers and mainstream vouchers prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. 

The Housing Choice Voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. The program is not limited to units in subsidized housing projects. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments, as long as it meets the requirements of the program.

“This funding will provide additional resources to public housing authorities to make sure people have a decent, safe and affordable place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in an official statement posted on the agency’s website. He added, “HUD continues to work with our public housing authorities to protect American families from this invisible enemy, including vulnerable residents in the Housing Choice Voucher program.”

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker issued a joint press release today announcing that $18,740,222 in federal funding from HUD will be used to make sure public housing authorities across New Jersey have the resources needed to maintain a safe and healthy environment during the pandemic for all their residents. The funding, which is in addition to $15 million announced in May, was secured by the senators in the CARES Act.

“During this public health crisis and long after the battle is over, we must continue to ensure that all New Jersey families have access to a decent and affordable place to live,” said Booker. “Federal funding like this is needed now more than ever to help New Jersey’s public housing authorities best serve the people who rely on them for safe and stable housing.”

Menendez noted, “If we are going to beat this pandemic, it’s essential that everyone has a reliable place to call home. We must continue investing in our federal housing programs so that every New Jerseyan has a roof over their heads.”

In May, HUD provided emergency relief funding for low-income families and individuals living in public housing. The $685 million in funds was awarded to public housing agencies across the country.  

Eligible coronavirus-related activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Procuring cleaning supplies and/or services to maintain safe and sanitary Housing Choice Voucher units, including common areas of public housing authority-owned project-based voucher projects.
  • Relocation of participating families to health units or other designated units for testing, hospitalization, quarantine or transportation to those locations to limit the exposure that could be caused by using mass transportation.
  • Additional costs to supportive services that vendors incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Costs to retain or increase owner participation in the Housing Choice Voucher program, such as incentive or retention costs. For instance, the public housing authority offers owners an incentive payment to participate due to added difficulties of making units available for Housing Choice vouchers families to rent while stay-at-home orders or social distancing practices are in effect.
  • Costs for providing child care for the children of public housing authority staff that would not have otherwise been incurred. For example, children who are at home due to school closings or staff members who are working outside of regular work schedules.

“These new funds are important and will go a long way to help low-income residents secure and retain affordable housing during this unprecedented time,” said Hunter Kurtz, assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing.



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Pricey Cities Become Cheaper, Cheaper Cities Become Costly


While the rental market remains far from robust, two important factors — rent decreases in the country’s most expensive cities and rent increases in more affordable cities — suggest the coronavirus pandemic is causing a squeezing effect on rental prices across the country. 

According to online rental platform Zumper, this seesaw effect has continued to accelerate this summer as the outbreak persists and more Americans are opting for cheaper places to live while working remotely.

“In our August national rent report, seven of the 10 priciest markets had larger year-over-year percentage decreases than the month prior,” said Anthemos Georgiades, co-founder and CEO of Zumper. “Additionally, five of these cities had larger month-over-month percent decreases this month than last. Meanwhile, of the top 10 least expensive cities in this report, only one city experienced a decrease in rent.”

The two priciest markets continued their downward trajectories with San Francisco and New York City one-bedroom rents down 11% and 7%, respectively, since this time last year.

Of the top 10 least expensive cities in the 100 tracked in the report, only one city, Tulsa, Oklahoma, had a decrease in median rent for one-bedrooms.

“As historically expensive cities become cheaper and historically cheaper cities become more expensive, the gap between the price distribution of rentals across the country seems to be closing,” said Georgiades.

Overall, the national one-bedroom rent increased 0.3% to a median of $1,233, while two-bedrooms grew 0.6% to $1,493. On a year-to-date basis, one and two-bedroom prices are up 0.7% and 1%, respectively.

Here are the top five rental markets:

1. In San Francisco, one-bedroom rent dropped another 2.4% last month to $3,200, while two-bedrooms decreased 3% to $4,210. Notably, both one and two-bedroom rents are now down over 11% since this time last year.

2. New York City, similar to San Francisco, continued to see rents drop with one-bedrooms declining 1.7% to $2,840 and two-bedrooms decreasing 0.3% to $3,200. Both one and two-bedroom prices in this city have fallen around 7% year-over-year. 

3. Boston saw one-bedroom rent drop 2.5% to $2,350, while two-bedrooms dipped 3.1% to $2,810.

4. San Jose, California held on as the fourth priciest market with one-bedroom rent remaining flat at $2,300, while two-bedrooms decreased 1.4% to $2,820.

5. Oakland, California moved down one spot to become the fifth most expensive market with one-bedroom rent falling 3.5% to $2,220, while two-bedrooms grew 1.8% to $2,900.

In stark contrast to the nation’s most expensive cities, median rents in less expensive cities have been steadily increasing. Tulsa, Oklahoma, inched up one position to become the 99th priciest market with one-bedroom rent growing 5.1% to $620 and two-bedrooms increasing 1.2% to $820.

Memphis catapulted up eight spots to rank as 76th. One-bedroom rent jumped 5.1% to $820, while two-bedroom units climbed 4.8% to $880.

Durham, North Carolina moved up nine positions to 43rd with one-bedroom rent growing 4.8% to $1,090. Two-bedroom rent had a more modest growth rate, increasing 1.6% to $1,250.

Providence, Rhode Island moved down four spots to rank as the 22nd priciest city and tied with Washington, D.C. for the largest rental decline last month, falling 4.8% to $1,400.

Washington, D.C. remained the sixth priciest market and similar to Providence, Rhode Island, saw rent drop 4.8%, settling at $2,160, while two-bedrooms decreased 1.4% to $2,880.

Nationally, median rents continue to tick up during the summer moving season. Overall, the national one-bedroom rent increased 0.3% to a median of $1,233, while two-bedrooms grew 0.6% to $1,493. On a year-to-date basis, one and two-bedroom prices are up 0.7% and 1%, respectively.



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Over 14,000 Homes At Risk From Hurricane Hanna Storm Surge


Hurricane Hanna, the first Atlantic hurricane of 2020, puts more than 14,000 homes at risk of storm surge damage, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data analytics provider. The storm made landfall Saturday on Padre Island off the southern coast of Texas, bringing gusts of over 90 mph, storm surges and rain across the state. 

Storm surge flooding occurs when sea water is pushed ashore by a storm through a combination of wind and pressure and is known to be one of the major causes of hurricane property damage along the Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and—under the right conditions—even inland waterways.

A mix of high winds and low pressure traveling with the storm causes water to accumulate along the front of a hurricane and push the amassed water across the ocean as it moves – eventually onto land and into residences and businesses. In a matter of minutes, storm surge resulting from hurricanes can wipe out homes and businesses.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for 32 counties, many of them in areas ravaged in recent weeks by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Hurricane-driven storm surge is one component of land-falling hurricanes that can cause extensive property damage,” said Thomas Jeffery, principal of the science and analytics team at CoreLogic, in a 2020 storm surge report. He added, “While most people associate hurricanes with wind, it is important to expect and prepare for the inevitable flooding since that is often responsible for considerable damage.”

Cities at high risk of storm surge damage also face heightened risk of mortgage delinquencies.

“If a hurricane causes significant storm surge damage during a time when mortgage delinquencies are already high, this could result in additional losses for homeowners, lenders and insurers – and ultimately delay economic recovery for impacted communities,” said CoreLogic chief economist Frank Nothaft in the storm surge report. “For example, our analysis shows that three months after 2018’s Hurricane Florence made landfall, serious delinquency rates had doubled in major metros affected by the storm.”

CoreLogic analysis below using the Coastal Storm Risk Score shows the number of South Texas homes that are at risk of being affected by Category 1 storm surge heights as well as the total reconstruction cost value of those homes. The reconstruction cost is calculated using an assumption of the total (100%) destruction of the structure and is based on construction materials, equipment and labor. It does not include the value of the land or lot.

“Hurricanes and the associated storm surge frequently require mandatory evacuation, often leading to mass displacement of people and tragic loss of life,” according to CoreLogic’s report. “Additionally, the impact of storm surge from a single hurricane can cause billions of dollars in property damage. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge famously breached 53 levees, causing catastrophic damage to New Orleans and its residents. It is now one of the costliest hurricanes on record, generating $125 billion worth of damage.”



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Student Housing Developers Gear Up For A New Normal On Campus


With the fall semester approaching, student housing owners and operators are taking unprecedented precautions to ensure students return to a safe and productive environment. Students are likely to find transformed spaces in housing on and off campus and new normals as they start or resume their college experience.

Chicago-based CA Ventures, a leading developer and operator of off-campus student housing communities across the country, notes that its pre-leasing numbers are only 2% lower than at the same time last year for the upcoming school year. The firm believes this is indicative of students wanting a college town experience, even if they are not yet sure how their classroom instruction will be delivered. 

Michael Hales, president of CA Student Living, weighed in on the initiatives his company has implemented at its off-campus properties in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way we think about community and the way our students experience it,” he said. “CA Student Living immediately pivoted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has changed how we lease and market communities, coordinate move-ins and handle day-to-day operations.”

Hales added, “We anticipate that social distancing will continue to be part of our lives when students return to school in the fall. Our teams have been working diligently since mid-March to identify and implement creative virtual programming such as our “Random Acts of Kindness” challenge and “Making Sense of it All” campaign.”

The initiative is poised to deliver care packages to residents’ doorsteps, invite residents to virtual events, share their experiences through photo and video, and more. “We expect many of these offerings to continue even after traditional amenity spaces reopen,” said Hales.

With more than 17,000 student housing units under management by CA Student Living, Hales pointed out that the developer’s goal is to have many amenities open by the time the fall semester begins, however, they will look and operate a little differently than before to promote social distancing. 

“CA was an early adopter of proptech, and we plan to use these tools to facilitate reservations for certain spaces and monitor capacity limits, which will likely be reduced in the short term,” he explained. “Additionally, we are reconfiguring common areas, including outdoor amenities, by removing some of the furniture and spacing the remaining pieces to meet social distancing requirements.”

Fully furnished residences will include private bedrooms and in-unit bathrooms, a layout that can sufficiently adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The company has made a point to implement additional cleaning on high-touch surfaces, use electrostatic sprayers and reduce contact for packages and food pickups. Team members are also required to wear masks and gloves when entering units for walk-throughs, work orders and move-ins and move-outs. 

“In today’s world, cleaning is synonymous with safety, which is often the top concern for students and parents,” said Hales. “Best-in-class sanitization procedures are becoming as important as cameras and key fobs.”

When students return, CA Student Living plans to continue to use a variety of channels to communicate with them and their parents to ensure important information is received. 

Hales said, “We use email, social media and physical signage to provide ongoing updates about any changes affecting our communities. Whether it’s the opening or closing of amenity spaces, office hour changes or other safety measures we’re planning to implement, students and their parents can rest assured we have their health and wellness as our number one focus.” 

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, CA Student Living quickly shifted to using electronic documents for all paperwork. Other changes that students should anticipate when they return to school include having an assigned time slot for move-ins. Only residents and their families will be allowed to move belongings into the apartments.

With more than 17,000 student housing units under management by CA Student Living, Hales said, “We hope that parents will have confidence in us and our ability to provide a safe place for their students to live – no matter how the universities decide to deliver classes during the fall semester. At each community, we are implementing new policies and procedures in accordance with national guidelines from the CDC and local health officials as communities start to reopen. We continue to monitor the situation and adjust accordingly.”

Veteran Silicon Valley developer Swenson has widened its collection of Northern California properties with the addition of The Grad San Jose. Across the street from San Jose State University, the property is the first high-rise student housing building in San Jose, California. Swenson is developing The Grad as a joint venture project with AMCAL.

The mixed-use, 260-unit building will include apartments and student amenities. Most floor plans are designed to give students their own private bathrooms. One four-bedroom floor plan will include three bathrooms.

The Grad San Jose will include a three-story parking deck and an amenities deck above the parking deck on the back side of the high-rise building. The amenities deck will include a building with an exercise center, a swimming pool with sundeck, sports courts, picnic area and landscaping. The first floor of the high-rise will include 14,750-square-feet of retail space.

Case Swenson, president and CEO of Swenson, said that with The Grad not opening for tenants until mid-August, his company is in the enviable position of being able to respond to new updates and make changes to the opening plan for the building before students move in. 

He explained, “Creating a new best practices map as we steer our way through this process, we have taken a proactive approach to promoting wellness and comfort at The Grad by partnering with an onsite management company with years of experience in student housing. Collaborating to make informed decisions that also follow CDC, state, and county guidelines to reduce health risks, The Grad will promote social distancing, disinfect and clean common areas frequently, touch up doors and other most frequently touched surfaces and use the power of UV disinfecting in elevators and heavily traveled common areas to ensure sanitary conditions.”

Swenson said the firm is discussing the possibility of partnerships with wellness experts in the community to offer tenants breath-based or yoga classes that can help to increase their sense of well-being.  

“As we keep our eye on guidance that changes daily, we are holding off on set plans for shared amenities until we are closer to opening,” he said. “With many businesses still closed, we anticipate higher demand for onsite amenities. And while things may look a little different, our hope is to offer limited or restricted amenities so tenants can enjoy the property safely.”



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