For decades, conversations about poverty have focused on jobs, public assistance, parenting, and mass incarceration. After years of intense fieldwork and study, Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Matthew Desmond has come to believe that something fundamental is missing from that picture: how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty.

Desmond says, “Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors, but nearly all of them have a landlord.” The result of his research is the new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

Last week, the group Sustainable Saratoga introduced a zoning amendment that would require new apartment developments to dedicate at least 20 percent of housing stock to “affordable” units.

This is a picture of an "Apartment For Rent" sign

Saratoga Springs has become a hotbed for development. Much of downtown’s development in recent years has been in the form of new high-end apartments and condos. One recent headline showed a condo in the heart of the city for sale for $5.5 million.

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched his so-called Fair Housing Enforcement Program to root out racial and sexual discrimination in the housing market.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

A new study aims to take a closer look at the causes of housing instability and insecurity in Schenectady, where some neighborhoods suffer persistent poverty.

Doug Kerr-Dougtone/Flickr

The Burlington City Council has unanimously approved a Housing Action Plan that includes 22 initiatives to create new housing and reduce costs in Vermont’s largest city.

Mark Moz/Flickr

With Vermont homebuyers paying higher closing costs than the national average, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency is launching a new down payment assistance program this week.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Several Capital Region mayors gathered in Schenectady Thursday to discuss the housing sector challenges facing their cities.

The mayors’ roundtable was part of the day-long summit “Strengthening Cities, Communities & Homes.” Participants took part in discussions and heard from experts including leaders from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Officials in the Capital Region blame the sputtering housing market on the polar vortex and unusually cold winter.


Authorities in Springfield, Massachusetts announced Monday they will begin enforcing anti-foreclosure regulations that survived a federal court challenge.  An activist who had lobbied for passage of the new requirements more than two years ago lamented the slow pace of implementation.

Hudson Valley Housing Report Shows New Trend

Sep 18, 2013
WAMC/Allison Dunne

A Hudson Valley nonprofit organization has released a report on housing in the region. The findings point to a major change when it comes to home ownership. The report points to a revision of the American Dream.

The top federal law enforcement official in Massachusetts highlighted efforts to enforce civil rights laws during a speech in Springfield on Friday. The U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, was the keynote speaker at a conference marking the 45th anniversary of the passage of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Efforts by residents of a low- income housing cooperative in Springfield, Massachusetts to recover  from the June 2011 tornado have been dealt another setback.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development , which funded the  90- unit complex nearly 40 years ago, is weighing foreclosure.


City councilors in Springfield Massachusetts have voted to reject a settlement with several banks over a foreclosure ordinance.

The vote means the city can implement the ordinance even if the banks continue to challenge its legality in the federal appeals court.  The ordinance, passed in 2011, and upheld by a federal judge last year requires banks to post a$10,000 bond to maintain and secure vacant foreclosed property.  City councilor Melvin Edwards said city taxpayers will no longer have to pay to eradicate the blight that results from foreclosure.


Community activists in several US cities are calling for changes in housing policies. They point to a shortage of affordable housing in the midst of a surplus of vacant, bank-foreclosed properties. One of  the cities where anti-poverty activists point to what they see as a housing crisis is Springfield Massachusetts. 


City Councilors in Springfield Massachusetts Monday night will consider changing a foreclosure ordinance to settle a lawsuit by several banks.

The change would exempt banks from having to post a $10,000 bond to secure and maintain foreclosed vacant property, if other conditions are met, including hiring a local property manager. A mediation program to help people at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure would be implemented. City Council Vice President Bud Williams said implementation of the ordinance has been blocked since it was passed almost two years ago.


The city of Springfield Massachusetts is considering changing a local ordinance that was hailed as a national model for addressing problems caused by foreclosures. Community activists, who championed the ordinance when it passed almost two years ago, accuse city officials of caving into the banks.


Boosted by higher home sale prices and more transactions spurred by low interest rates the amount of money spent on real estate in Hampden County last year was almost $1 billion, a nine percent increase over 2011, and the most since 2008.  Hampden County Register of Deeds Donald Ashe called it a good year for the housing market in western Massachusetts and he forecast what he called a “ steady healthy market”  for the next six months.


American International College Tuesday announced a $25 million dollar redevelopment of the historic Indian Motorcycle property adjacent to its campus in Springfield Massachusetts.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

The project announced Tuesday will result in the redevelopment of 139 housing units in the former factory complex where legendary Indian Motorcycles were manufactured up until 1950.  It will include building apartments in  a former fire station that sits on the property in the heart of the inner city Mason Square Neighborhood.


The state aims to phase out the use of motel rooms as emergency shelters for homeless families over the next 18 months and halt the program completely by June 30, 2014.  Aaron Gornstein, the Undersecretary of  The Department of  Housing and Community Development  said eliminating the motel system is in the best interest of taxpayers and homeless families.


The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is making progress in reducing the number of homeless veterans in the country. But the critical need was evident at an event Friday in Springfield Massachusetts.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

   Hundreds of veterans looking for help filed into a church social hall for an opportunity to speak with representatives from more than 60 agencies and programs, including health care providers, counseling services, and housing specialists.  There were free meals and each could leave with a bag of clothes.

A housing symposium was held yesterday to address the challenges faced by communities in Eastern New York, Northwest Connecticut, and the Berkshires. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

The symposium hosted by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington laid out a series of housing options for the Berkshire Taconic Region. Jennifer Dowley, President of the Foundation put the familiar problem facing those looking for housing in the area into just a few words:


A federal court ruling clears the way for the city of Springfield Massachusetts to implement a foreclosure ordinance.  Housing rights advocates predict the local law will become a model for other cities and states struggling with the blight caused by foreclosed vacant property.  WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.


An inner city neighborhood once lost to blight and crime has undergone a transformation that officials believe could serve as a model  for the entire country.  The neighborhood revitalization  in Springfield Massachusetts required substantial public financing, without which officials insist it could not have happened.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

The residential real estate market in upstate New York is showing some promising signs. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports…

The burst of the so-called "housing bubble" in late 2007 sent the real estate market into a spin... a new batch of numbers is leading industry insiders to believe that things are turning around... according to  the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes rose in April and remain above a year ago, while home prices continue to rise.

On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives passed a modified version of the bill that will now head to the senate. The bill would help prevent foreclosures by requiring banks to be more flexible with borrowers in their repayment plans.

The bill would require lenders to analyze loans under new standards and offer modifications that can financially benefit the borrower and bank to prevent forclosure.

Next week, the people of Williamstown will vote on municipal efforts to expand and begin the process of developing new state funded Affordable Housing in the Northern Berkshire town. According to Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law, every community in the Commonwealth has an obligation to develop ways to provide 10% of their housing stock available to moderate and low income families. Many Berkshire communities are well below that goal, including Williamstown.


  Construction work on publicly funded housing developments in Massachusetts should be booming in coming months. The Patrick administration has committed tens of millions of dollars to build or preserve affordable housing across the state. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

        $105 million in tax credits and subsidies from federal and state programs is being awarded for 36 housing developments in 28 communities.  State officials say this will build or preserve almost 22 hundred housing units and create an estimated 3000 construction jobs.


Anti poverty activists want more housing for the poor in Springfield Massachusetts. The comprehensive master plan for rebuilding from the tornado does not call for more affordable housing to be built.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports..



Massachusetts state and local officials  in Northampton,Tuesday marked more progress in  a decades  long effort to  transform a former state hospital campus into a sustainable urban neighborhood..WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.