NLIHC Publishes New Report on Growing Affordability Gap

Posted: March 13, 2013 by thehomelesspage in Organizations, Policy

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The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual “Out of Reach” report was published today, revealing an expanding hole in affordable rental housing. While the report has some good news, like a drop in veteran homelessness by 17 percent since 2009, the levels have increased for families. According to the research, over one million school-aged children do not have a permanent place to return home. The report attributes this result to a tightening, more competitive rental market and a lack of affordable places to live. An online statement by Barbara Poppe, executive director of The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, lays out the math.

 “As homeownership rates have declined, the number of renter households rose by one million households in 2011, the largest single-year increase since the early 1980s.   Meanwhile, the cost of rental housing has increased.  As noted in the report, while renter households earn an average of $14.77 per hour, the actual ‘Housing Wage’ needed to afford market rents is $18.79 per hour.

For the lowest-income households, known as ‘Extremely Low Income’ households, the situation is even more dire.  Out of Reach reports that the number of ELI households rose to 10.1 million households, and ELI households now represent one-quarter of all renters.

It’s without question that these pressures on the rental market, particularly at the lower-cost end of the market, have contributed to rising homelessness among families. “

The report doesn’t fail to take the sequester into consideration, forecasting an even steeper increase in homelessness for families if certain programs are depleted by spending cuts. The Affordable Care Act is seen in the report as a crucial source of funding for low income people to maintain stability. With affordable health care, families can avoid missing work, incurring large debts and paying budget-crippling medical bills. It can also help maintain stability by providing behavioral health care, since mental illness has historically been a contributor to chronic homelessness.

Read the rest of Poppe’s statement here.

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