Sunday, January 31, 2016

Can We Have True Multifamily Housing in El Paso with Two-Room Apartments

Development in El Paso: Not Family Friendly
Family-friendly apartments, a misnomer in the Sun City

Following up in our last post regarding rentals in El Paso (Are Renters Being Screwed in El Paso?), I came across another article in Rooflines. Robert Hickey writes in “Seeking True ‘Multifamily’ Housing” how city planners and real estate professional “use the term ‘multifamily’ to describe apartment and condominium building” but it is a great misnomer.

The reason Hickey explains is that the majority of apartment stock is made up of one- and two-bedrooms units. He says that they are better suited for singles or for couples for without children.

He states that according to new U.S. Census data, “homes with three or more bedrooms are decreasing…” falling 12 percent of the “multifamily construction in 2014 – its lowest share since 1991.” 

He shares that in the 25 largest cities (El Paso is in this group), “family-sized three-bedroom units comprise just 5 percent of the non-regulated rental market.”

Hickey says that to get a three-bedroom apartment, it is terribly expensive and that families of modest means are “priced out” to getting these types of units.

What Could El Paso Do?

Hickey used the example of Emeryville, California which passed an ordinance “requiring three-bedroom and two-bedroom units in new market-rate construction.” 

This law requires: “In any new, multi-unit building of 10 or more residential units, no fewer than 15 percent must have three or more bedrooms, and at least half of all units must have two or more bedrooms.” Hickey describes other plans in San Francisco and Washington D.C. 

He also describes how Emeryville has published “family-friendly” guidelines. Wouldn’t “family-friendly” guidelines be appropriate for Downtown revitalization? 

Unfortunately, families is the not the target of El Paso’s hipster-friendly progressives and despite the showcase of one or two middle-class families that live in Downtown El Paso – El Paso’s Downtown families remain in the lower poverty scale -- much to the chagrin of El Paso’s progressives.

Emeryville’s guidelines require:

  •  More play areas for children that are safe and visible from major spaces in the homes
  •  Visible places where pre-teens and teens can gather
  • High-quality sound-proofing materials and enclosed entry foyers to reduce noise and increase privacy
  • Parking for family-friendly units near hallways and elevators
  • In-Unit or common-area laundry machines

  El Paso should focus on true family-friendly living.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fence Riders & Prominent Republicans make up Vince Perez Biggest Contributors in Recent Report

Fencers & Prominent Republicans make up Vince Perez Biggest Contributors in Recent Report
 Woody Hunt continues hands in pockets

Vince Perez recent political contribution has some juicy stuff.

Filed on the 15th of January here are some highlights:

$800 contribution from the Claudia Ordaz Campaign.

Question: do Ordaz’ Supporters, when giving to Ordaz really want to be supporting Vince Perez. Should there be some discloser that when you give to the Claudia Ordaz Campaign, your contribution may be forwarded to Vince Perez?

Most of Perez contributions some in the amount of $100:

$50 or less

Gaspar Enriquez

Charles Ambler
Gisela Ainsworth

$100 plus
Elliot Shapleigh
Dean R. Joseph Vanderpool
Thelma Weakley
Delia and Juan Parra

$200 plus
Juan and Blanca Garcia
Kastrin  W.C. J. & Deborah

$300 plus
Dr. Robert Woody

$500 plus
Jorge Perez
Richard Teshner

$1000 plus
Texas Democratic Party

$2000 plus

Zip Code Spread (El Paso Zip Codes Only):

79901: One Contribution (business address)
79902: Four contributions (near UTEP along Mesa)
79907: One Contribution (Mission Valley)
79912: Three Contributions (Westside)
79913: One Contribution
79915: Two Contribution (Valley)
 79922: Two Contributions (Upper Valley)
79928: One Contribution (Far Eastside, North of I-10)
79927: One Contribution (Socorro)
79936: One Contribution (Near Eastside)

Source: January 15, 2015 Candidate/Office Holder Campaign Finance Report

Friday, January 29, 2016

Are Renters Being Screwed in El Paso County?

Are Renters Being Screwed in El Paso County?
by Raymundo Eli Rojas

Editors Note: Is been a while since I've posted. I mostly served the last few years as editor to various writers who have submitted good articles. Hopefully, I can keep some posts coming.

Although I tend to take The Atlantic articles with a grain, and sometimes brick of salt. I did notice this article on why rent was rising in places where it’s cheaper to own. In Kriston Capps' article, she explains this.

I thought about El Paso, as most of the big push to bring richer, more hipster, younger people to Downtown El Paso, involves making a lot of people richer.

The idea to revitalize downtown involves making downtown into a landlord’s heaven of high rents.

In an interview with The El Paso Inc some years ago, Gilbert Guillen explained why it was more affordable to live outside of downtown where rents would be cheaper, you’d have a front yard and back yard, a garage, and parking, all more much cheaper than living Downtown. Furthermore, you still be within 10 minutes to 30 minutes from Downtown. (1)
Using numbers from the U.S. Census, the article on City Lab shows El Paso County’s gross rent as $700 to $850 from 2010 to 2014.

The next map shows an increase in Real Medium Monthly Gross Rent from the periods 2005-2009 to the period 2010-2014. Doña Ana County recorded no change, yet El Paso increased.

The next map shows how in El Paso County, the home ownership rate in the years from 2010-14, was less than 55.0. In Dona Ana County, the rate was actually higher: 55.0 to 63.9.

The next map shows the change in home ownership rate from the 2005-2009 years to the 2010-2014 years. El Paso County saw a decrease in home ownership rate while Dona Ana County saw no change.

The article says with exception of some cities, “More renters should be buying homes.”
The next map shows that in El Paso County, the Median Selected Monthly Owner Costs with a Mortgage from  2010 to 2014 was less than $1000. The same was found for Dona Ana County.

The next map shows the Change in Real Median Selected Monthly Owner Costs with a Mortgage year 2005-2009 to 2010-24. Both El Paso County and Dona Ana County measured no change.

The article ends attributing some of this to student debt: “Not necessarily bad credit, but less competitive credit.”

“Institutional investors and all-cash buyers, meanwhile, put homes out of reach for normal buyers who need loans to purchase. These factors are keeping renters (mostly Millennials) out of the post-crisis, first-time-homebuyer market.”

“In the end, it’s a portrait of inequality: If renters wanted to buy a home, they should have gotten rich before now. So long as investors can beat first-time home-buyers to the punch with larger down payments and cash offers, renters are going to stay renting. Even the people who can afford a mortgage”

Note 1: 

Q: Wasn't the idea that the people who have been living Downtown in Segundo Barrio were largely poor, but what people talked about was attracting professionals, Downtown workers, students and artists - a more diverse group living where we haven't had people living, such as former department stores and lofts?
That was a grand idea, but it doesn't work in El Paso. We already have artists living down here. We already have lofts and professionals living Downtown. In other cities, lofts work because of supply and demand. You simply don't want to be in New York and have to commute two hours from the suburbs to come to work. You'd rather live downtown and you'll take whatever you can get and you have to pay the going rate.
In El Paso, lofts are not economically sound. For example, the Popular annex was turned into apartments that they touted as lofts, the Union Annex Project. But those are going for $900 a month for a single, $1,200 a month for a double. In El Paso, nobody with good business sense - emphasize good business sense - is going to do that.
You can go to the Westside and buy a cardboard house for $865 a month with three bedrooms and a two-car garage - and it's your property.
The Loft that the Karam brothers have: the mom lives in one, the brother lives in the other and the other brother lives in the other one and that's it.

"Gilbert Guillen: Watching over Union Plaza," El Paso Inc., October 17, 2011.