​​Vertically Integrated Modular Housing Project Opens in Auburn, Washington

Blokable at Phoenix Rising, a vertically integrated 12-unit affordable modular housing development in Auburn, Washington, opened in 2020. Modular homes are mass-produced, prefabricated residential structures that can be combined with other modules or permanent fixtures onsite to form single- or multifamily dwellings. Blokable, a Seattle-based manufacturer of modular homes, developed Phoenix Rising as its prototype multifamily building. Adopting a modular construction process generated considerable time, cost, and energy savings.

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Washington, D.C. Builds Transitional Housing in the Southwest Waterfront Neighborhood

The Aya is a supportive housing development in Washington, D.C.'s Southwest Waterfront neighborhood. Opened in 2020, the Aya is one of eight such developments the District built in the wake of a major shelter closure. All 50 units serve as transitional housing for people experiencing, or on the verge of experiencing, homelessness. The residents, mostly families with small children, have access to onsite amenities and support services, including a community clinic on the ground floor. The building's intentional design fosters interaction among residents and complements the surrounding community. In 2022, the Aya won an Excellence in Affordable Housing Award from the American Institute of Architects for its creative design and extensive community engagement process.

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Image credit to HudUser.gov

Racial Differences in the Demand for Cash Value Life Insurance

Within the past decade, there has been widespread encouragement for consumers to hedge their wealth by investing in financial products such as cash value life insurance (CVLI). Though most individuals invest in life insurance to cover expenses after a loved one has passed, many financial advisors are trying to enlighten consumers on other beneficial uses of insurance. This study explores racial differences in the demand for cash value life insurance. Using data from the 2010-2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, I identify factors that impact the trend in demand toward CVLI. While previous literature focused on the ability to purchase life insurance and how much to insure, this work examines differences in preference by race. The findings suggest that Black Americans have decreased their demand for cash value life insurance, while White Americans have increased their demand for life insurance over the past decade.

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Housing Inflation and Cost Burdens

A specter is haunting America—the specter of inflation. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped to 9.1% in June 2022 and currently stands at 3.2% overall as of October 2023. Alongside inflation, there has been a housing boom that has raised home and rental prices, leading to fears that households, particularly renters, are experiencing increased cost burdens. In this blog, we will overview the components of inflation, the differential impact of these component price changes, the cost burden methodology and its relationship to inflation, and the policy options available.

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Rent Control and Renter Stability

Today’s pressing concerns about mounting housing costs in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic have made rent control increasingly prominent in recent discussions. Rent control policies, it is argued, might stabilize housing expenses, offer greater safeguards for tenants, and not substantially disincentivize new affordable housing construction. Could such measures help realize housing as a human right for all residents?

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French Banlieues and the Consequences of Spatial Segregation

The French banlieues are suburban neighborhoods beyond city boundaries. These communities have evoked social controversy for many decades. They are usually marked by socioeconomic characteristics and diverse ethno-racial compositions leading to unfortunate stereotyping of cultural identities. The discourse surrounding the "banlieue problem" frequently involves hostility towards immigration, mostly from Africa and the Arab world.

The historical background, ongoing spatial segregation, and intense discrimination faced by banlieue residents provide a vital context for understanding recent police violence and subsequent rebellions in the banlieues. Combatting  stigmatization, improving public resources and their availability to banlieue residents,  enhancing police accountability for their violent attacks, and addressing the underlying policy issues adversely affecting these communities are needed corrections to institutional racism.

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Lured into Debt: How Payday Loans and Paycheck Apps Exacerbate Financial Struggles in Underserved Communities

“Payday Lending” has a well-earned reputation as a financial system that exploits the underserved, often locking them into ever-deepening cycles of indebtedness. In response, regulators at various levels of government have attempted to control or even ban the use of such products. Still, the financial world is no stranger to evolution, and the lending landscape is no exception. The convergence of state regulations, payday loan bans, and the rise of paycheck advance apps have created a dynamic environment that is reshaping how people access short-term funds, often to their detriment. This article delves into this intricate relationship, exploring how borrowers and lenders navigate these changes, and the implications for consumer financial health.

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50 Years of PD&R's Gentrification Research

The term "gentrification" emerged in the 1960s to describe a process where wealthier households moved into lower-income neighborhoods in London, leading to increased investment but also displacing the original residents. In the United States, this phenomenon gained attention in the mid-1970s when affluent households and investments returned to central areas of some large cities. Understanding gentrification is crucial for housing policy, with the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) playing a key role in studying its conceptualization, measurement, and its impact on displaced residents. This article summarizes PD&R's work on gentrification since its establishment in 1973, focusing on its contributions to the understanding of this phenomenon.

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Systemic Racial Discrimination in Public Housing in France and the U.S.

Public housing has evolved markedly over past decades in both the United States and France. While both countries have taken different paths to advance public housing, neither nation has achieved broadly favorable outcomes for low-income and marginalized households. In both countries, societies are fighting with the important consequences of housing policies that have impeded access to affordable housing and deepened existing inequalities. 
To address the growing disparities, policy makers must take a versatile approach that includes increased funding, innovative policies, and collaboration among government, housing authorities and community organizations to ensure accessible and quality housing options for all.
This blog aims to look at the intersection of socioeconomic factors and housing policies in the United States and France with a goal of creating a deeper understanding of the challenges facing both societies. 

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Race and Recovery from Hurricane Michael: A Case Study in Florida

Following a natural disaster, homeowners and local governments try to rebuild and restore their communities, turning to personal savings, insurance settlements, and public and private disaster relief funds. However, total damages incurred by individuals and communities as a result of a disaster typically exceed these funds. This deficit leads to displacement and eventually blight. Blighted or vacant and abandoned properties are linked to increased crime, decreased property values, poor resident health, and depleted local government resources, a less than ideal ground on which to rebuild a community.

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Racial Disparities In Labor Markets in Colombia and the US

The differentials in labor market outcomes among races provide evidence of the systematic exclusion and discrimination to which the Black population is consistently exposed worldwide. This blog uses microdata from the Colombian Household survey and the main conclusions from Wilson and Darity (2022) to show racial labor market disparities in Colombia and the US. It also suggests that Black people can experience labor markets that have very different characteristics but end up suffering the same severe socio-economic disparities.

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Displacement, Gentrification, and Maryland’s Purple Line Light Rail

In Maryland’s suburban counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s, the state government and a public-private partnership are spending billions of dollars to construct a new light rail rapid transit line. Who will benefit from this multi-billion dollar investment in the Purple Line light rail system? Will existing residents be displaced by upscale development and high-income households? Or can the areas adjacent to the new transit line become a national model for racial and income integration as a part of new transit-oriented development?

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The Dissimilarity Index: A Tutorial

This blog shows how to calculate the index of dissimilarity and provides examples about its possible uses in indicating levels of residential racial segregation.

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The Dissimilarity Index as a Tool for Accountability in Ending Racial Segregation

Racial segregation in housing has a long history in the United States. Many economic and legal structures have historically prevented African Americans in particular from acquiring decent livable housing, and have forced the Black community into substandard dwellings at exorbitant housing costs. Formal legal policies such as FHA sponsored redlining, covenants, exclusion from the GI bill, and real estate steering all contributed to and reinforced the segregation of the Black community into substandard environments. Supreme Court decisions such as Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) and Jones v. Mayer Co. (1968) outlawed the exclusion of African Americans from most communities, but race-based housing patterns were still in force by the late 1960s. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 were passed in response to the Civil Rights Movements and urban rebellions that sought to change this situation. But did they lead to change?

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