The United States has been struggling for years to combat the issue of affordable housing. Affordable housing is defined as “housing for which an occupant pays no more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing expenses such as rent and utilities (Kalugina, 2016). To understand this crisis, one must start with some brief history of affordable housing. The National Housing Act of 1934 attempted to assist with the housing situation. After the Great Depression and World War 11, there was limited housing for soldiers after the was looking to come home and start their lives. The Federal Housing Administration goal was to make sure that housing was accessible, and everyone had the opportunity to become homeowners. The National Housing Act of 1934 looked to make some changes with the mortgage issues, that required homeowners to have large down payments for a home. This act was tainted with issues of discrimination, which created setbacks for individual looking to own a home.
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Some years later in 1937, the United States Public Housing was created, it created new rules and regulations for public housing. United States Public Housing was mandated to build one unit, for everyone that was destroyed. The goal was to ensure that subsidized housing was being created and public housing would have a chance to thrive (Kalugina,2016). Affordable housing was created to ensure that everyone can have an adequate and safe place to call home. Over the years there have been many changes with policies that have created barriers for this goal. The paper will discuss important policies and legislation which have tried to combat this issue and some that have created more issues. When people have access to a decent home in a thriving community, they have a better chance at being successful within the community they live in.
This section will identify several policies that were intended to assist with the housing crisis, and some that will and have made the situation worse. Some of these policies had great intentions of making affordable housing successful but did not work as intended. The Housing Choice Voucher, this was program created to reduce the low-income renters from not having adequate housing and not having access to living in decent neighborhoods. This program also sought out to assist people form both racial and economic segregation, by living within thriving neighborhoods. Even though this program’s goal was to help, it came with a small selection of housing choices that still impact Americans today. The Housing Choice Voucher has been the same since it was created in 1974. Applicants within this program had to locate their own home and pay at least 30 percent of rent and utilities, The Public Housing Administration pays the remaining balance to the landlords. These vouchers were to give these families the information they needed and allow them to pick where they wanted to reside. This choices for these families meant safer neighborhoods, better job opportunities, and better school systems for their children. Even though this program again was created to battle the housing situation it had some flaws. Families that had vouchers still ended up living in neighborhoods with low-income families that did not receive any assistance at all and low performing schools. The Housing Choice Program deepened the issues of poverty and racial discrimination in society. The Proposed Rule was issued by the Housing and Urban Development on June 16, 2016. This proposal mandated that Fair Market Renters be used in certain areas. The Fair Market Renter is a tool used to determine the amount of rent to pay for the Housing Choice Voucher. The Fair Market Renter’s goal was to ensure that families with vouchers has the chance to move into good communities and can thrive and be successful (Seicshnaydre, 2016).
The second policy that was created to assist with making affordable housing available was the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. This program has been main sources to contribute for affordable housing in the United States. This is a federal program that gives housing developers tax credit for building affordable housing within the community. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit was created from the Tax Reform Act of 1986, this tax was given to every state according the population size. This program did come with some flaws after the 15-year time limit. Many companies that were financed through this program, did not get a return on their investments, because there was no rent increase for the tenants as expected. Other issues that came along with this program was the money to complete any repairs to the buildings. Some properties need small repairs while others were a bit more expensive. The cost of some repairs would range from 6,000 to 7,000 dollars, and there were limited funds to get the needed repairs done to the units. This can sometimes mean that families are living in deplorable conditions (Hettinger, 2005). There were also issues of racial segregation within the Low Housing Tax Credit. According to (Leveiver, 2004), subsidized hosing has been accused of encouraging racial segregation and building affordable housing units in low-income neighborhoods. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit does not have a system that monitors progress of issues that may arise. This can result in in several billions of federal monies being misappropriated (Leviner, 2004).
Affordable housing does not affect the younger generation, but the elderly or the disabled as well. Adequate housing is seen to be an important factor in the quality of life within the elderly population. The Older Americans Act was created in 1965, and the goal of this act was to ensure that the elderly had access to affordable and adequate housing as everyone else in the community. Between the years of 1960 and 1988, there were two major issues the arose for the elderly and the housing situation. The number of people that were not married and lived in the home alone. The number of elderlies that were living with families or other people had dropped drastically. The last factor is that married couple are living alone solely, which means their elderly parents are not in the homes with them. The main reason for this for this is because there has been improvement for some elderly form an economic standpoint, but this does not apply to all the elderly. According to the American Housing Program Survey, poverty had increase for the elderly between 1980 and 1987. There were also several issues with repairs and maintenance issues that the older population needed on their homes. The Community of Block Grant did attempt to fund some much-needed repairs for homes that the elderly resided in. The Farmers Home Administration Section 504, goal was focused on accessible for the elderly to remain or become homeowners. The National Housing Affordable Housing Act of 1990 has guidelines that were created to assist the homeowner issues that pertained to the elderly. One aspect of the is act allows the elderly homeowner to use the equity in their homes for any repairs needed. This would ensure that this population would not have to sale their homes and have access to the needed repairs for their homes. The number of renters of the elderly has increased as well, this and the combination of the limited number of affordable housing creates a great deal of competition and higher rental cost. The National Housing Affordable Housing Act of 1990 has created some ways to alleviate this problem by creating a program under Section 202. This program’s goal was to provide affordable and adequate housing for some of the more fragile elderly within the community (Redfoot & Gaberlavage, 1991).
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Even with all the effort and program to ensure everyone has access to adequate affordable housing, American still faces an uphill battle. The Trump Administration are taking a proposal that would cut benefits on affordable housing, and by doing this it would leave even more people without stable housing. This would result in less adequate and overcrowded housing situations with majority of their income going into paying the rent. When families must spend all their money on rent, this usually mean other aspects of their lives are not well maintained such as healthcare, clothing for their families, and saving such as 401K. With families that struggle with paying the rent that is required based on income and having to take care of their kids is already a burden. Rent increased in affordable housing target families that are already low-income and put them at a higher risk of experiences poverty and homelessness. This proposal would also allow the Housing of Urban Development to change tenants’ rental policies, that were not created to protect the families. Agencies such as Public Housing Administration and Section 8 owners can adopt new renter policies or create their own rental structure. This bill would also consist of a tenant’s rent to adjust every three years verses every year. There are programs that have proven to assist these struggling families become stable and successful (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2018). According to (The National Low-Income Housing Coalition, 2018), expanding programs such as Jobs Plus and Self-Sufficiency. This program provides information about finances and investments, to gain financial success without any lost. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has a Section 3 regulation that has the goal of training and hiring recipients of housing benefits within their community (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2018).
Affordable housing should be important to everyone in American, when people have access to housing in a neighborhood that is thriving it benefits the society. There have been many great attempts to ensure that everyone no matter young or old have access to affordable housing. Some program did run into issues such as racial segregation and developers building affordable units in non-desirable neighborhoods with no chance to thrive. The voucher for affordable housing sets out to allow families to choose the neighborhood they wanted to raise their families in, this somewhat backfire because all the home for the vouchers were being placed in neighborhood the families where trying to get away from. As quoted by Matthew Desmond “it is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need. Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everyone in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart. This means that the housing should be accessible to all because we are humans, and to have stable housing a person can go out into the community, locate a job, and thrive with the community.
- Hettinger, W.S. (2005). Low Income Tax Credits. Strategies for Years, 15.
- Kalugina, A. (2016). Affordable housing polices: An overview. Real Estate Review, 14 (10), 76-83. Retrieved from http:// scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/
- Leviner, S. (2004). Affordable housing and the role of the low income housing tax credit program: A contemporary assessment. The Tax Lawyer, 57(4) 869-904. Retrieved from http:// www.jstor.org/stable/20772495
- National Low Income Housing Coalition. (2018). Homepage. Retrieved from www.nlich.org/issues/benefits.cuts.
- Redfoot, D., & Gaberlavage, G. (1991). Housing for older Americans: Sustaining the Dream. Generations, 15 (3), 35-38
- Seicshnaydre, S. (2016). Missed Opportunity: Furthering fair housing in the housing choice voucher. Law and Contemporary Problems, 79 (3) 173-198. Retrieved from http://lcp.law.duke.edu/.
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