Far too many families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Nationwide, more people are choosing to rent their homes than ever before. But our investments in affordable housing have not kept pace. As a result, millions of people do not have an affordable place to call home and half a million people, including families with small children and unaccompanied youth, are living on the street, in shelters, or in their cars on any given night.
Only one out of every four families in need receive housing assistance. And, our nation’s affordable housing infrastructure is deteriorating and is often inaccessible to people with disabilities. Every state and congressional district is impacted.
With the growing affordability challenges occurring in many American cities coupled with the existing shortage of affordable homes for the most economically vulnerable community members that impacts every community in the United States, we must expand – not reduce – federal funding for proven HUD and USDA programs.
Investing in affordable housing produces long-term benefits, from increased employment and economic mobility to improved health and better education.
While advocates, resident leaders, and Congressional champions helped secure a 10% increase in funding for HUD programs for fiscal year 2018, additional resources are needed to fully address the need and restore funding to previous levels.
The recent increase in federal investments for affordable housing demonstrates the importance and power of advocacy. This victory is a critical step forward — but there is still much more to do. We must build on the momentum of this year’s funding victory to carry it into the next.
Congress must again hear from advocates with the message that we should not reduce our nation’s investments in affordable housing, but we should instead continue a bold and sustained commitment to ensure that everyone has a safe, accessible and affordable home.
Federal investments in affordable housing have widespread and significant benefits in communities across the country. From employment and economic mobility to health and education, all areas of life are improved when individuals and families have access to a decent and stable home.
HOMELESSNESS AND POVERTY REDUCTION
Rental assistance has demonstrably reduced homelessness for people with low incomes.
It’s also proven that providing housing assistance is one of the most effective ways to help families, children, and youth escape poverty. In 2012 alone, housing assistance lifted 4 million people out of poverty—including 1.5 million children— according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable housing resources act as a barrier for families and youth experiencing homelessness in their ability to secure a stable home where they can thrive and achieve positive outcomes in education, employment, and overall well-being.
A wide body of research indicates that a child’s neighborhood and home life have a significant impact on their performance in school. For every additional year a child spends in a better neighborhood environment, their economic outcome as an adult improves, as indicated by measures such as income, likelihood of college attendance, and probability of avoiding teenage pregnancy.
Children in low income households that live in affordable housing score better on cognitive development tests than those growing up in households with unaffordable rents. Research also shows that young adults who lived in public or voucher-assisted housing as teenagers have higher earnings and lower rates of incarceration than young adults from unassisted low income households.
Providing housing assistance allows for greater stability for children from low-income homes. When children switch schools frequently due to instability or homelessness, they’re more likely to struggle academically and display behavioral problems, and less likely to go on to graduate from high school.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
Safe, decent and affordable housing is critical to an individual’s physical and mental health. When housing is affordable, quality medical care and healthier foods are more within reach for low-income families.
Children of families that are behind on rent payments are more likely to be in fair or poor health and are at greater risk at being delayed in their social, emotional, motor, or cognitive development. Furthermore, children experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity are more likely to witness and be victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
Additionally, affordable housing provides a useful platform for delivering health services to vulnerable populations like seniors, people with disabilities, and people experiencing homelessness.
STRENGTHENING THE ECONOMY
Investing in affordable housing infrastructure has numerous benefits for the economy – it creates jobs, boosts families’ incomes, and encourages further development. According to a report by the National Association of Homebuilders, building 100 affordable rental homes generates $11.7 million in local income, $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 161 local jobs in the first year alone.
When affordable housing isn’t prioritized, local economies suffer. One study reported that the shortage of affordable housing in major metropolitan areas costs the American economy about $2 trillion a year in lower wages and productivity.
Further, HUD programs boost local economies by creating and supporting jobs. in fiscal year (FY) 2015, HUD investments supported an estimated 537,297 jobs. Of those, 301,217 were directly supported by HUD programs, while 236,080 were supported indirectly.
There are many ways you and your organization can participate in the Our Homes, Our Voices Week of Action. Here are some ideas for how you can get involved. If you have questions, want to know how to collaborate with those in your community, or are ready to share details about your event, contact [email protected]