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San Antonio’s Daring New Policies for Affordable Housing


Big Ways Cities Can Solve the Affordable Housing Crisis.

Affordable housing is hard to find after home prices surged 25% in the past five years in San Antonio (64% Latino), the San Antonio Express-News reports. About 165,000 people in San Antonio are "overburdened" with housing expenses. They spend more than 30% of their income on rent, mortgage payments, and other costs associated with housing, such as electricity, according to The Rivard Report. This is a threat to a city expected to grow by a million people in the next 20 years. “Just like water, energy and transportation policy, we have to make investments in housing in order to spur inclusive development that delivers prosperity for our entire community," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. How is the city tackling housing? San Antonio OKs Policy Framework, Funding for ...

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Bad News: USDA Relaxes School Food Rules


latino kids in a school food lunch line

Earlier in 2018, over 700 Salud America! members and thousands of others submitted public comments to oppose the USDA's proposed measure that could weaken nutrition standards in schools. Unfortunately, USDA approved its measure. The new rules aim to give schools flexibility in achieving higher nutritional standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium, according to a USDA press release.  Unfortunately, experts say that really means: Schools in the national school lunch and breakfast programs will be allowed to serve flavored, low-fat milk, which is prohibited under existing standards. The requirement for the portion of grains that must qualify as whole-grain-rich will be relaxed. There will be a delay to meeting sodium reduction requirements, even though 9 out of ...

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3 Better Ways to Spend $168 Million than Parking Garages


The park-and-ride at TriMet’s Park Avenue MAX station in Southeast Portland built in 2015. Source: TriMet via Sightline

Michael Anderson is quite unhappy with Portland’s plans for $168 million worth of parking garages for “park-and-ride” users of its future 12-mile rail corridor. Anderson, an urban policy writer and analyst at the social justice nonprofit Sightline Institute, says garages are expensive, serve only a few transit riders, and drain money from more beneficial projects. He suggests three more efficient ways to spend the money while boosting transit ridership: mixed-income homes near transit bike infrastructure better bus and rail service. Anderson also encourages people in Portland Metro to advocate for these alternatives and speak up against the parking garage plans, and join local advocacy groups, like Portlanders for Parking Reform, Portland for Everyone, and ...

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Zero is Florida’s Big Traffic Fatality Goal



One traffic death is too many. That’s why Florida (25.6% Latino) has become the first U.S. state to adopt a goal of zero traffic and pedestrian deaths each year. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) even established safety performance targets to align with its “Driving Down Fatalities” vision for a fatality-free transportation system. Read how they did it below in Part 3 of Salud America!’s three-part series on transportation changes in Florida. Part 1 examined Florida’s reinvention of Complete Streets. Part 2 examined the potential for public transit integration. New Traffic Safety Targets State departments of transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) get money for transportation projects from multiple sources. Each source has ...

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The Midterms: Big Wins (and Losses) for Affordable Housing


affordable housing sign (via Associated Press)

U.S. housing is at its least affordable in 10 years, according to a recent report. So it was no surprise to see lots of affordable housing and rent control measures on local and state ballots during the Nov. 6 midterm election. Voters showed mixed results for affordable housing. Wins occurred in Texas, North Carolina, and Washington. Arizona suffered a big loss. California felt like a split decision. “Tremendous local and state victories on ballot initiatives to address homelessness and housing poverty mean new affordable homes for the people most in need and new alliances and momentum for bigger victories to come,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement. “And yesterday proved that housing is a winning campaign ...

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London to Ban Ads for Junk Food on Public Transit



London will ban advertisements for unhealthy food on public transportation in February 2019, as a publicly approved way to reduce rising obesity rates. Other cities can use the ban as a model. London Obesity London has one of the highest childhood overweight and obesity rates in Europe. Of children ages 10 and 11, more than 37% are overweight or obese. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is particularly concerned because children living in deprived neighborhoods are almost twice as likely to be overweight. “It’s completely unacceptable that in a city as prosperous as London, where you live and the amount you earn can have a massive impact on whether you have access to healthy, nutritious food,” the mayor said in a press release. “I’m determined to change this.” He is ...

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Florida Reinvents Complete Streets, 30 Years Later


Florida Ave. after Complete Streets improvements. Source: Space Coast TPO

In 1984, Florida transportation leaders crafted the state’s first policy for Complete Streets, which aim for safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. The policy worked. It saved 3,500 lives in 30 years, according to a study. But, even with a three-decade decline in pedestrian deaths, Florida remains car-dependent and repeatedly ranks among the most dangerous states for pedestrians and bicyclists. What could transportation leaders do now? Their answer: Reinvent how they implement Complete Streets. Read more below in Part 1 of Salud America!’s three-part series on transportation changes in Florida. Part 2 will examine the potential for transit integration. Part 3 will cover pedestrian death reduction. Why Didn’t the ...

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Major Steps toward Affordable Housing in Austin, Texas


M Station affordable housing units in Austin, Texas (via Hatch + Ulland Owen Architects)

Access to safe, affordable housing is a priority for good health. Access to housing protects families and promotes feelings of security that can reduce stress. Affordable housing located near safe parks, full-service grocery stores, and living-wage employment helps to build community and encourages healthy eating and exercise. Two new initiatives will try to help solve the lack of affordable housing in Austin, Texas (34.5% Latino). $250 Million for Affordable Housing In November 2018, Austin voters overwhelmingly approved a $250 million bond for affordable housing. Here's where the money will go: $100 million for the Austin Housing Finance Corporation to buy land. The city then can give the land to affordable housing developers. $94 million to go to ...

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Colorado City Could Mandate More Affordable Housing


construction hard hat housing development

Longmont City Council preliminarily approved an ordinance that would mandate 12% of the livable square footage in a new residential development be dedicated to units affordable to low- and moderate-income home buyers and renters. Home buyers making 80 percent of the area median income and renters making 60 percent of the area median income can afford these units. The ordinance still needs final council approval. In many “big cities” in the United States, housing costs force some low-income and Latino families to make difficult financial decisions, new initiatives like these must be promoted in many cities. Longmont, Colo., has a population of 90,719 people with a median age of 36.9 and a median household income of $62,847. Longmont has 26% Latino population. The ...

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