Thursday, May 7, 2009

Housing advocates call for increased investment in rental housing

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition and other housing advocates are circulating a sign-on letter to Congress and the Obama adminstration calling for much more public investment in affordable rental housing.

According to the letter:

The economic crisis that has beset the United States is rooted in excesses in the home ownership housing market that must be corrected for our economy to recover. But housing is much more than the private market home ownership. The undersigned organizations want to call attention to what we mean by housing. We mean enough homes renting at affordable prices so that our nation’s lowest income families and individuals are assured of safe and decent places to live.

As the Administration and Congress consider action to stem housing foreclosures and to reform the housing finance system, equal attention must be paid to the long-standing and unmet need for decent, affordable homes for households with the lowest incomes. Despite the surplus of single family homes for sale today, the shortage of rental homes that extremely low income households can afford continues unabated.

Nationwide, 9 million extremely low income renter households compete for only 6.2 million rental homes they can afford. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are on waiting lists for rental assistance, which are only getting longer as unemployment and foreclosures grow. Tonight, more than 745,000 people are homeless. ...[M]uch more must be done to prevent a surge in homelessness and help the unemployed, low wage workers, low income seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans who are experiencing severe housing affordability challenges.

When we compare the unprecedented attention paid to homeownership and the investment the federal government will make to shore up troubled mortgages to the resources for programs serving the nation’s most vulnerable people, we are dismayed and disappointed that those households for whom stable homes are most threatened in today’s economy are once again being shortchanged.

The solutions to the housing crisis of the lowest income renters are simpler and less expensive than what is needed to repair the home ownership market. We know what to do: preserve and expand the supply of rental homes that these members of our communities can afford. To do so, we call for dedicated sources of funding for the National Housing Trust Fund that will generate the necessary revenue to produce or preserve 1.5 million homes in the next ten years and 200,000 new housing choice vouchers a year for ten years.

Read full letter here

In January, housing advocates urged the administration to fund the 200,000 housing choice vouchers and set aside $10 billion for the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund as part of the stimulus package, but these elements were not included. Instead, approximately $4.6 billion in funding was set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for public housing upgrades, energy retrofits, an $ 1 billion increase in Community Development Block Grants, $2 billion to support the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to fund housing construction, and other programs.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.