Housing in general is one of the biggest social issues in America today. In discussions on some of America's top social justice topics, housing is right up there with health care, unemployment and poverty. In fact, housing and poverty are generally discussed together. Why?
Almost half of Americans are on the brink of homelessness
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 43 percent of Americans are living below the poverty line and just one step away from homelessness; many have already lost their homes. Poverty and homelessness are connected. What about low-income and affordable housing programs? What is the difference between them? Are they helping?
The definition of affordable housing, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is spending no more than 30 percent of household income on housing, either rent or mortgage payment. Anything beyond 30 percent is considered cost-burdened, which means families are going to have a tougher time finding money to pay for other necessities like food, clothing or health care.
Low-income housing refers to affordable housing programs that offer low rent for qualifying low-income individuals and families. Households that qualify for affordable housing are those whose households earn 60 percent or less of the area median income. There are even lower qualifications for very low and very very low-income households with qualifications on income that go down to 30 percent under median income.
The housing crisis continues
However, Americans are finding the cost of housing out of reach. Whether it's rent or cost of homes, they are both on the rise. In addition, there is not enough affordable housing or low-income housing to go around.
- More than 50 percent of U.S. households pay over 30 percent of their income towards rent. This is an increase from 38 percent of U.S. households in 2000.
- The available supply of housing that is affordable for low-income, very low-income, and extremely low-income families can only serve the needs of 55-86 percent of renter households, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
What will these statistics look like five years from now, or sooner? A basic human need -- a place to call home -- is in serious trouble.
For more information and to read the NLIHC report, visitwww.nlihc.org/oor/2013