Tuesday, August 23, 2016 – Housing market tightens

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 – Housing market tightens

The Baton Rouge area housing market was already tight before the August floods.

Housing market tightens

The Baton Rouge area housing market was already tight before the August floods. And experts say it’s about to get even more challenging for house hunters and those looking for temporary quarters. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber estimates that 31 percent of homes in the nine-parish Capital Region are in flood-affected areas. Home prices will likely increase in areas that did not flood, due to increased demand. The Advocate’s Timothy Boone has more:

As of July, there were 3,382 homes on the market in the metro areas, according to figures compiled by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ [GBRAR] Multiple Listing Service. That’s 15 percent lower than the number of homes for sale in July 2015. … In the immediate aftermath of the flooding, [Ginger] Maulden [president-elect of GBRAR] said she expects the inventory will drop even further. Some people who had listed their property may end up taking it off the market and letting displaced family or friends live there. Some homes that were listed may have been damaged by floodwaters and can’t be sold at the current time.

Experts predict the rental market will get a boost after seeing its first decline in occupancy from 2014 to 2015, although the number of apartments damaged by the flooding is unknown. Emergency efforts to allow for longer-term temporary housing in front of damaged homes may alleviate some housing market pressure.  


Federal government private prison use to end

The U.S. Justice Department announced that its use of private prison facilities would be phased out over the the next five years.  Private prisons have long been criticized for providing substandard services and programming, while also documenting more safety and security incidents than facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons. For-profit prison companies involved are already balking. In a Washington Post opinion piece, Katrina vanden Heuvel points out the perverse nature of privatizing prison services:

Federal private prisons are a small part of the prison-industrial complex, because most private prisons are at the state and local level. But the Justice Department’s announcement may mark the beginning of the end of what has been a miserable failure of privatization. The stock prices of the two leading private prison companies — the Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group — cratered on the news. Privatizing the incarceration of people was always a ridiculous idea. If companies are going to make money out of jailing people — by competing to offer lower prices — the competition can only be perverse. They’ll push to increase the number of inmates in a facility, decrease the services provided them, pile on fees to charge them or their families and decrease the number or training or quality of guards, medical staff and others. Overcrowding, rotten food and bad medical services become profitable “efficiencies” until violence breaks out.


Head Start impacts future generations

A new economic analysis by The Brookings Institution adds to the impressive body of scholarship that shows the benefits of high-quality early childhood education. Participants in the federal preschool program have higher educational attainment and better social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes:

Consistent with the prior literature, we find that Head Start improves educational outcomes— increasing the probability that participants graduate from high school, attend college, and receive a post-secondary degree, license, or certification. Overall and particularly among African American participants, we find that Head Start also causes social, emotional, and behavioral development that becomes evident in adulthood measures of self-control, self-esteem, and positive parenting practices. We find that Head Start participation increased positive parenting practices for each ethnic group and for participants whose mothers did not have a high school degree when compared with the outcomes of children who went to a preschool other than Head Start.


The Con-Con con
The New York Times looks at the quiet push by conservatives across the country to force a Constitutional Convention that would open up America’s founding document for revision. As Michael Wines reports,

The groups are an amalgam of free-market, low-tax and small-government proponents, often funded by corporations and deeply conservative supporters like the billionaire Koch brothers and Donors Trust, whose contributors are mostly anonymous. They want an amendment to require a balanced federal budget, an idea many conservatives have embraced, many economists disdain and Congress has failed to endorse for decades.

The idea of a Constitutional Convention called by the states under Article V of the Constitution has circulated for years in fringe right-wing circles, but has gained momentum in recent years as Republicans gained control of state legislatures.

So what rules would an amendments convention follow? “The answer to almost every question you could ask is ‘We don’t know,’” said Michael J. Klarman, a constitutional law expert at Harvard whose book on that convention, “The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution,” will be published in October. “I think a convention can do anything they want — re-establish slavery, establish a national church. I just don’t think there’s any limit.”


No. of the day

12 percent – The percentage of federal inmates currently held in private prison facilities. (Source: Washington Post)