News Round-Up: Housing and Homelessness

Today, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is releasing Out of Reach 2012: America’s Forgotten Housing Crisis. In this report, we reveal that the Housing Wage- the amount a household must earn working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, in order to afford rent and utilities on a modest 2-bedroom apartment- is $18.25. Meanwhile, America’s average renter wage is just $14.15.

We’ll write more about the report tomorrow, but for today’s News Round-up, we wanted to highlight an opinion piece that gets to the heart of why we produce Out of Reach every year and why we call it “America’s forgotten housing crisis.”

Foreclosure has been in the spotlight for many years now, and for good reason. Subprime lending, shady foreclosure practices and ongoing high unemployment have all put homeowner after homeowner onto the street. But the forgotten housing crisis is the one that’s been going on even longer: the shortage of housing affordable to low income people. According to this column in the Everett Herald,

Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. It is nearly impossible to achieve your potential in life if every day is a struggle to find a place to sleep at night. The whole community loses when the contributions of each member cannot be realized.

In the short term, the shortage of housing affordable to lower income people means individuals and families choosing between basic necessities like food and medicine in order to have enough money left over to pay the rent. In the long term, it means homelessness.

As the opinion piece notes, we can close the gap between what’s affordable to renters and what’s available in the market by creating more affordable rental housing. This requires funding from sources like the National Housing Trust Fund, but it can be done. We hope that in publishing Out of Reach each year, we can help advocates across the country make the case that now is the time to invest in more affordable housing for those in the greatest need.

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