Build Day in Vermont

After traveling over 120 miles through New Hampshire, we had our second build day that was just over the Vermont border. We worked with Cover, a local nonprofit working to keep homeowners in their homes and make small adjustments to their homes. We were able to (almost completely) roof a veteran’s house. It was great to meet the homeowner while working and to talk to the director of Cover later that day at dinner.


After that, we conquered some crazy mountains in Vermont and New York (via a ferry!) and kept cruising til our next build days in Buffalo.

Six days, three rides, and NH’s best cinnamon bun. 

Hello from Lebanon, New Hampshire! We’re six days into Bike and Build. After wrapping up orientation (rules, a group practice ride, and our first Build Day with South East New Hampshire Habitat for Humanity), the 36 of us dipped out wheels in the Atlantic Ocean in New Castle, NH, and rode 59 hilly miles to Concord, the state capital. Let me tell you – it was no walk in the park. But since then, we’ve ridden two easier days (still some hills, though).

Geared up before the wheel dip. The New Hampshire coast is picture perfect.


Some highs so far include: eating New Hampshire’s best cinnamon bun in the town of Warner, jumping into a beautiful lake outside of Lebanon, and just getting to know the team. 


Shout out to our hosts so far – they have been amazing. First Baptist Church in New London generously cooked us dinner and a very early breakfast. They also gave us a tour of their beautiful bell tower, with a bell made by Paul Revere from the early 1800’s. Here’s the view from the top:


Tomorrow, we have a Build Day here in Lebanon, NH, and then we’re off to Vermont. 127 miles down, only 3,819 to go!

T-minus 0 days 

Tomorrow begins our orientation in Portsmouth, New Hampshire! Even with over 500 training miles, one 65 miler, more than 10 hours sweat equity, and over $5,300 (!!) raised, still not feeling entirely prepared. But when you’re about to do something you’ve never done before, you can never feel adequately ready. However, upgrading to a sweet bike saddle can help. 

Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far! Couldn’t’ve done it with out you. Follow our Northern US (NUS) route here – it includes trip journals and mail drops (places we’ll periodically pick up mail). Check it out!

Cheers, and happy riding.

Bike Month Updates

Yes, such a thing exists!  May is national Bike Month, thanks to the League of American Cyclists. Around the country, there are states, cities, and communities that have been celebrating Bike Month with Bike to School Day for students, Rides of Silence for fallen cyclists, and Bike to Work Day. The League of American Cyclists advocates for better bike infrastructure to make American more bike-friendly and also has great resources and data if you want to learn more about recreational and urban cycling around the country. Check ’em out and see how bike-friendly your state is.

In preparation for the summer adventure, my B&B teammates and I have been leading weekly discussions about AH with different perspectives. Topics range from a general overview of AH availability around the country, to creative approaches to public housing, to San Fran’s efforts to increase AH, to how the lack of AH affects different groups in our country (such as women, senior citizens, etc.). One great read I encourage you to look at is Impacts of Affordable Housing on Health. It discusses how AH can free up money for healthier food, how home stability can lead to less mental stress, how “green” energy efficient homes can mitigate long-term health risks, and much more. The more you know, right?

Bike with art

Three beautiful pieces of art.

 

 

April Update

Holy smokes, where did the month go?

Here’s my Bike and Build progress since the last post in March:

  • Broke through my fundraising goal of $4,800 – woohoo!
  • Biked 38% of the pre-trip training requirement
  • Volunteered with an affordable housing organization
  • Began reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond – an educational read

A big “thank you” to everyone who donated to Bike and Build and got me this far! Your generosity has been amazing.

In other news, this cross-country journey will be one-way for me – I am starting graduate school in Portland, Oregon in September for a master’s in urban and regional planning! I am grateful for this exciting opportunity.

Cheers, and happy riding.

 

 

Visualizing the shortage of affordable housing in the USA

Thought I’d share this article from CityLab.com by Tanvi Misra that displays the shortage of affordable housing by state. (Gotta love visual learning.)

On a national level, there’s a shortage of 3.9 million affordable homes for low income families. This translates to only 35 units per 100 extremely poor families. Yikes. By state, Alabama has the most, with 61 units. Breakin’ it down by metro area, Las Vegas has only 12 units per 100 families, and Boston has the most, with 46 units per 100. ‘Murica, we can do better.

visualizing-affordable-housing-shortages-by-state

From CityLab.com. Any of these states catch you by surprise?

 

This is causing a chain reaction across income levels. Because of the shortage of affordable housing rental units, families with middle income levels are forced into the units that are for lower income families. In fact, of the 7.5 million rental units that are considered affordable for low income families, 3.5 of them are occupied by a higher income level renter.

What does this mean? It means that a good chunk (over 30%) of a family’s income is spent on housing, leaving less money for other expenses, such as food, health care, transportation, and higher education. Imagine having to choose between your prescription medication or dinner. (In fact, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that 71% of extremely poor families spend over half of their income on rent and utilities.)

What’s the solution here? More affordable housing, of course. But that’s easier said than done, with housing assistance policies such as the Low Income Tax Housing Tax Credit that may not be interesting to developers anymore, and the Mortgage Income Tax Deduction. From the article:

Housing assistance policies have not caught up to this new reality. Reforming the Low Income Tax Housing Tax Credit, a key program that helps build affordable housing so it better addresses the needs of the most burdened renters, is one recommendation NLIHC makes in the report. Housing advocates also argue that the Mortgage Income Tax Deduction, which is designed to promote homeownership, is ineffective.

You can read the rest of the article here. Feeling slightly overwhelmed and not sure how to help? Learn how Bike and Build is making an impact on affordable housing across the country, and click here to check out why I’m getting involved.

 

 

Affordable Housing Changes in the Political Climate

To give context to the issue of affordable housing, I want to share this article by Josh Cohen from NextCity.org about the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) which, since the Reagan era, has financially helped millions of low-income families with renting homes.

I encourage you to read it. In summary, the article states that because of tax cut promises from the new administration, investors are not as interested in giving money to developers for housing units with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Here is an excerpt to explain the relation between the tax credit and its role in development:

“Created by President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Tax Reform Act, the LIHTC program disburses federal income tax credits to affordable housing developers through state housing finance agencies. The developers (nonprofits and for-profit companies) negotiate with investors — often banks, insurance companies or other corporate entities — for funding in exchange for the credits. The former get money for their rent-restricted housing projects, and the latter get to reduce their tax burden. Unlike a tax write-off, the tax credits provide a dollar for dollar tax reduction. A dollar of LIHTC purchased is a dollar off the tax bill.” Continue reading