NewDEALers Innovate to Tackle Homelessness

With affordable housing among the biggest challenges facing cities across the country, NewDEAL Mayors are implementing innovative solutions addressing homelessness in their communities. In Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf applauds the success of the Keep Oakland Housed initiative. Learn more about the program, which prevents residents from losing their housing by providing legal representation, emergency financial assistance, and supportive services. In less than 1.5 years, the City has kept 2,117 households, and about 4,000 individuals from losing their housing. Meanwhile, in Montgomery, AL, Mayor Steve Reed, who was just elected in the fall, launched his Feed the Meter for the Homeless effort this week in partnership with the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless. Read more about the special green parking meters installed downtown that will offer residents a way to donate directly to support central Alabama agencies working to address homelessness.

The Future We Choose: A Safe Home For Everyone


Each year, the Salt Lake County community invests $42 million in government and private funds on the complex issue of homelessness, helping Utah’s Housing First initiative to dramatically reduce chronic homelessness. Currently, resources are invested without coordination either among funders and service agencies or between them. Efforts of funders and service agencies are disconnected, and no one has a common understanding of the problem, shared solutions, or common ways to measure progress resulting in isolated pockets of efficiency and impact.


Salt Lake County is coordinating a system-wide effort to identify gaps in current homeless services and improve services delivery to individuals and families experiencing or at risk for homelessness. The County is also organizing broader community efforts around these outcomes by developing an innovative, integrated set of supportive finance strategies, including an innovative portfolio approach to related Pay for Success projects, a public-private funding collaborative, and an initiative to coordinate Community Development Block Grant funds region-wide. The Mayor is also determined to make the resulting data widely accessible online through a public dashboard, now in development, which will demonstrate accountability to residents. 

Tackling Foreclosure Crisis


The mortgage foreclosure crisis ravaged communities through New York City, and its impact is still being felt today. Thousands of families lost their homes and entire neighborhoods suffered from vacancies, blight and declining values. In addition to its effects on families and neighborhoods, pre-foreclosed real estate hinders economic development, costing the city roughly $84 million in unpaid property tax annually.


To deal with a continuing foreclosure crisis, City Councilman Dan Garodnick is advocating for New York City to buy back distressed mortgages controlled by federal housing authorities, restructure the debt in partnership with not-for-profits, and then resell the notes (and homes) to current homeowners and low- to moderate-income New Yorkers who can support the debt. Banks have been resistant to writing down principal balances because of regulatory constraints, and too many properties have been abandoned, or left in legal limbo. This solution will refurbish vacant or abandoned properties, rejuvenate communities, and give people much-needed housing.

Dilapidated Housing Ordinance


The steady decline of the coal industry led to a growing number of dilapidated and dangerous abandoned homes in Pike County, Kentucky. As the population decreased, many homes were left unoccupied and became dangerous eye sores in their communities. These abandoned and dilapidated homes lowered property values for other home owners in their communities.


As a county official, Rep. Harris sponsored and passed a “Dilapidated Housing Ordinance” which provided a method for the County Solid Waste Department to remove dilapidated structures from property. Upon receipt of a complaint from a neighboring land owner, the County Solid Waste Department provides notice to the owner of a dilapidated structure and affords them a reasonable period of time to either repair or remove the structure from the premises. If the structure isn’t removed within the time period allowed under the ordinance, the County Solid Waste Department may then take steps to remove the structure and place a lien covering the cost of removal upon the real estate. The Dilapidated Housing Ordinance removed countless dangerous eyesores from communities all across Pike County and improved safety and property values for those living near these abandoned structures. 

Public-Private Partnerships for Affordable Housing


The City of Oxford is facing a workforce and affordable housing crisis, and this is occurring against a backdrop of the highest land prices in the state. To further exacerbate the problem, Oxford is located in one of the most fiscally conservative states in the nation, so solutions which may be feasible in places like Aspen, Colorado or Asheville, NC are simply non-starters here.


Mayor Tannehill, beginning during her tenure as an Alderman, formed a coalition of community partners that would represent both conservative and progressive viewpoints while also leveraging the strengths of the public and private sectors. This bipartisan Public-Private Partnership was ultimately able to earn $15,000,000 in funding in federal tax credits layered with traditional debt which will be taken out by local developers. As a result of this achievement, the City of Oxford will soon be home to ninety-six high quality new construction homes – all in walking distance of local amenities – at zero cost to the local government. Mayor Tannehill’s achievement came as a result of fully engaging Republicans to Democrats… for-profit corporations to non-profit advocacy groups… the state government up to the federal government… large-scale developers to the working community… but all these partners only succeeded when their ideas were met by a City government with a strong leader who would ensure – to the person – that Oxford is pro-growth. While many local governments use ordinances and procedures to slow growth and obstruct development, Mayor Tannehill has fostered – instilled – a mentality in City Hall that nothing short of getting the job done will be accepted.

St. Petersburg’s Housing Plan: For All, From All


Housing affordability and housing stock is a challenge in my city, and it is denying individuals and families a chance to live the St. Pete and American Dream. Thoughtful, comprehensive housing strategies don’t get created on the fly. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts or silver bullets. It’s hard work. It’s a complex challenge, one that is plaguing cities across the nation. We have a solution.


Our plan, if not the many details, is simple: Housing for all, from all. For those who earn up to 120% of Area Median Income: Create, preserve 2,400 multi-family units, support the development of 200 non-subsidized
Workforce Density Bonus Units, Include mixed-income developments on City-owned land to increase the supply of multi-family units, support the construction of 300 accessory dwelling units, enable the purchase of 500 single-family homes for households earning 120% of the AMI or below, provide 150 single-family lots for construction of new
affordable homes, enable more than 3,200 single-family homeowners to stay in their homes by remedying code violations through available grants and additional City funding.

Renters Choice Makes a Splash

Just weeks after he announced the effort at the NewDEAL Leaders Conference, Cincinnati Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld’s initiative to make rent more affordable is under consideration by the Council and garnering national attention. Also supported by NewDEAL Leader Mayor John Cranley, the legislation provides a low-cost alternative to security deposits, which can create significant barriers to housing. The proposal would allow a tenant who is applying for a home or rental unit to choose between making a traditional security deposit or purchasing insurance that provides full coverage for both tenant and landlord. After hearing interest in this idea from many NewDEALers at last month’s conference, NewDEAL plans to track and promote implementation efforts across the country, and encourages anyone pursuing a similar effort to reach out.

Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization

Seven NewDEALers have risen to the office of Mayor just this year, and their impact is already being felt. This week, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced a new tax incentive to support home buyers in certain neighborhoods as part of her community revitalization strategy. In coverage of the announcement, a local realtor talks about how the initiative could help influence a younger demographic to put down roots in Lincoln. The Mayor has also taken steps to make Lincoln a more welcoming place for all, such as signing an anti-discrimination order in November.

Investing in Affordable Housing in St. Petersburg, FL

NewDEAL Leader St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman unveiled a new 10-year affordable housing plan that will help an estimated 7000 households. His plan focuses on the construction of new multifamily housing units, new accessory dwelling units to add to housing stock, new funding for an affordable housing pool, and other solutions to both add housing and to protect existing properties. Check out more details about his ambitious new plan and how it will be funded.

Understanding the Housing Crisis in Salem, MA

As part of her emphasis on finding solutions for Salem’s affordable housing crisis, Mayor Kim Driscoll and the city of Salem, MA released “Homes for Salem”, a four-part video series intended to increase public awareness of the housing crisis and talk about the importance of implementing policy solutions. Mayor Driscoll said the video series will help those who weren’t able to attend public forums to better understand the problem, as the city considers both traditional and creative solutions to build housing stock and update existing homes. Read more details about the series or watch the videos for yourself.