Is Affordable Housing the Answer to the National Housing Crisis?

From the coast to the city, more Americans are finding it harder to afford their homes. All across the income spectrum, individuals and families are struggling to keep up with their rent let alone save for a house.

In 2020 along with the COVID pandemic, unemployment levels are at an all-time high. Many cost-burdened individuals cannot cover the affordability requirement of 30% of their income on rent. While most wish to save to purchase a home, the housing market has seen prices surpass average wage increases.

Despite moderate market recovery since the recession, there is a widening gap between income levels including that of impoverished communities. The rise in housing costs and the continued inequalities could make affordable housing the answer to the national housing crisis.

What Does Affordable Housing Mean?

Homes including apartments are considered affordable for those who earn at or below the median household income as stipulated by government. When we take a closer look at what affordable housing means, households should not be spending more than 30% of their gross income on their monthly rent. A household that spends above 30% on rent is regarded cost burdened.

Why is the Definition of Affordable Housing Problematic?

A household that makes an average 80% of the median income for that area is deemed as low income by government standards. Unfortunately, median income and spending 30% or more on monthly rent do not account for general expenses such as travel costs, healthcare, childcare, and other pressing costs.

Then, if we look at median income per area or state, the percentages of higher earning residents create a higher median income. This makes it more difficult for individuals living near the poverty line to cover an apartment or a house that is regarded “affordable.”

Another problem with affordable housing is the lack of availability. More families who can’t afford the monthly rent of central properties are moving further out. This means fewer dwellings are provided for those households that are considered low income.

What are the Options for Those Interested in Affordable Housing?

For households who cannot afford to cover their full monthly rent, government housing subsidies offered through programs such as Section 8, make it possible to find an economical rental in certain areas or states.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) aids renters to find properties that best align with their disposable income. Programs including second chance housing are alternatives for those who can afford to pay for their monthly rent without a housing subsidy.

How Rent Assistance is Helping the Affordable Housing Sector

Rent assistance offered through government programs such as Section 8 housing vouchers, and charitable organizations are helping individuals and families with affordable rent. For households who cannot afford a few months of rent owing to a change in or loss of employment, rent assistance is a necessary financial support. Rent assistance programs are also available for low-income households.

Why More Low-Income Households Need Affordable Housing

A house is more than just a roof over one’s head. It is a place of safety, a community, and it provides a stable environment for many families. By making secure and affordable housing accessible, millions of Americans can cover the costs of healthcare, pursue their educational goals, and raise a family in a positive environment.

Affordable housing needs to start with fewer government restrictions on property development. Investors, private, and public organizations need to get on board with property development aimed at affordable housing. With more initiatives dedicated to the affordable housing market, individuals and families can pursue their dreams.