The affordable housing crisis isn’t just a problem for low-income families. It’s a problem for entire communities and economies, and it’s threatening to devastate many urban areas around the country.
In urban areas around the country, low-income families and individuals struggle to afford housing that provides them with access to work, public transit, and other services they need to live.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, for every 10 low-income households, there are fewer than 4 homes available in an affordable price range. In popular urban areas, these numbers are even more dire, often making it impossible even for individuals with moderate incomes to survive, and forcing middle-income families to spend most of their income on housing, at the expense of other things.
For low-income service workers, the problem is made worse because they often need to use public transit in order to reach their places of work, while areas near public transit often represent the most expensive real estate in the city.
This problem is driven by multiple factors, including gentrification, real estate investment practices, economic policy, low wage growth, and the efforts of property owners to maximize their property value.
Miami is one of many prominent cities in the United States with a severe shortage of affordable housing. According to a recent market update prepared by Florida International University, cited in a Miami Herald article, the affordable housing crisis “poses as much of a threat to the region as sea-level rise.”
There are several reasons that a lack of affordable housing is damaging to communities. For example:
For areas like Miami and Portland, Oregon, the affordable housing crisis is substantial and growing. For instance, Miami has experienced a 12% growth in the number of households classified as “extremely burdened” by housing costs, just in the past year.
In response, many municipalities are instituting aggressive programs to try to address the affordable housing crisis. Additionally, most urban areas make funds and incentives available to developers who agree to build a certain amount of affordable housing.
Some of these programs, along with other efforts, have the potential to help increase stocks of affordable housing and alleviate the growing problem, while other programs may make the problem worse. In the next two articles in this series, we’ll discuss the measures cities are taking, and how developers can take advantage of them to create profitable developments while helping to address the housing affordable housing crisis.