Home Sweet Home Is Harder to Find

March 30, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Home foreclosures may be grabbing the headlines, but an even more disconcerting housing concern is worsening. The number of units available to extremely low-income renters is shrinking.

A recent National Low Income Housing Coalition study found that during the housing boom of the 2000s, there was a rush to build luxury developments to rent and own, with an emphasis on single family and multifamily homeownership. Simultaneously, there was a decrease in the supply of units receiving project-based assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, making it harder for renters in the extremely low-income (i.e., renters earning less than 30 percent of the local area mean income) and very low-income (i.e., renters earning 31 percent to 50 percent of the AMI) categories to find housing. The study concluded that nationally, there were only 36 affordable and available standard units per 100 extremely low-income households as of 2009, as well as a shortage of standard units to renter households below the very low-income threshold.

“It is very likely that the situation has deteriorated further” since 2009, according to the report. “The recession has amplified these conditions. While every state has different needs, broadly defined there is a significant and growing need across the country for more affordable housing resources.”

The report also notes that there was a 3 percent rise in homelessness between 2008 and 2009. Federal funding for affordable housing may not make for exciting press, but it’s becoming increasingly important in this era of budget-cutting.

Do you have any comments on programs to encourage affordable housing? What can the government do to address affordable housing as budgets shrink? Let us know.

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