September 28, 2018

Fast Company: Elizabeth Warren has a plan to help end the housing crisis

America’s housing crisis reaches across income levels and geography, but the further one goes down the socioeconomic ladder, the more dire it becomes: Currently, the U.S. is short 7.2 million homes for the 11 million residents living on very low incomes. The affordable rental market is so constrained that 71% of low-income families spend over half their income on rent. Absent any meaningful federal investment in affordable housing in the last few decades, local governments, nonprofits, and in some cases, private companies, have tried to step up, but still, the affordable housing gap persists. 

 The solution to this crisis–like many of America’s crises–is more and better funding toward affordable housing construction and preservation, but to date, leaders have lacked the political will to demand it, says Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is breaking this pattern. On September 26, she introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act of 2018 to call for a $450 billion investment, spread out over the next decade, toward building and preserving affordable housing, and boosting rates of homeownership among low-income people. “Senator Warren’s bill would reverse decades of chronic underinvestment by the federal government,” Yentel tells Fast Company.

Warren’s proposal would funnel $45 billion every year into the Housing Trust Fund, a new federal program, rolled out in 2016, that provides block grants to states to build, rehabilitate, or preserve affordable housing for people living on incomes less than 30% of the area median income, or below the federal poverty line. While the existence of the HTF is cause for optimism, its funding is currently anemic: In 2018, it made just $266.8 million available to states. As the NLIHC reports, bringing the supply of affordable housing up to speed with demand is a project that will require billions of dollars in federal investment.

Read the full story on the Fast Company website here.

By:  Eillie Anzilotti
Source: Fast Company