As many sectors of the economy have seen significant improvements within the past decade,
affordable housing remains a significant concern to our communities. According to the National
Low Income Housing Coalition, 10.8 million renter households with extremely low incomes
account for 25% of all renter households and 9% of all U.S. households. Of the 10.4 million
severely housing cost-burdened renter households, 7.6 million are extremely low income, 2.1
million are very low-income, 656,000 are low-income, and 132,000 are middle or higher
This is worrying data, given that cities are the drivers for economic growth and development,
and there is a strong connection between housing security and economic growth. While
economic benefits are one compelling reason to address the affordable housing crisis, there are
other benefits, as well.
This article will examine five important benefits of affordable housing and why our communities
need it now more than ever.
1. Is a Catalyst for Economic Gain
Low-income families around the United States are considered housing cost-burdened when they
spend more than 30% of their incomes on rent and utilities. They are considered severely
cost-burdened when they spend more than half of their incomes on housing. Currently in the
U.S., we have millions of people facing a tremendous financial strain providing their housing
alone – let alone the other costs of living.
Low income renters have little income remaining for other necessities after paying their rent.
Reducing the percentage of this expenditure saves more money for basic needs and overall
economic empowerment. Affordable housing reduces the high expenses of typical rent. More
money in pockets means an increased purchasing power, which boosts local businesses. As a
result, there’s a more steady income flow for individual businesses in the community and more.
2. Creates More Job Opportunities
Affordable housing also comes with the prospects of increased job opportunities. It is also
important to note that the location of many affordable housing communities allows the working
population to live closer to jobs within the area rather than having to commute long distances
from where they work and live.
The increase of job opportunities can be seen as soon as the initial construction phases and
eventually brings lasting societal growth. Building, preserving and sustaining affordable housing
requires a variety of construction tradespeople, property managers, leasing agents, security
staff and others — 161 local jobs on average in the first year alone.
With the federal government now issuing low-income house tax credits (LIHTC) to private
developers via state agencies, there are more significant opportunities for job creation.
Private developers receiving LIHTC will need to hire construction companies to renovate or build
affordable houses. Housing centers, which will need enough staff to take care of maintenance
and other essential operations, will also need consideration. The people filling these positions
will most likely be drawn from the local community. And not only will they have affordable
housing in the end, but also an earned income in their bank accounts.
3. Allows Communities to Access Better Overall Health
Households are often forced to cut corners in other areas whenever burdened with a high cost
of living. People who don’t have access to affordable housing often make the difficult decision
to cut corners in areas that are detrimental to their health. However, those living in affordable
housing are able to spend substantially more money on food, education, childcare and
Affordable housing is an important tool in reducing the pressure necessitated by an excess of
financial strain. One of the significant impacts it brings is good health among members of the
communities. This begins with increased disposable income, due to paying less rent. Similarly,
reduced financial stress improves different aspects like cohesion within the family, which is good
for both physical health and overall wellbeing.
Research statistics also show that those who move into affordable housing enjoy an improved
life, better health outcomes and are less worried about general stressors in comparison to
before moving into affordable housing.
4. Brings More Diversity to Communities
More affordable housing communities often enable communities to take the powerful step of
becoming more diverse. Often, these communities provide a place to call home for people from
different cultural, socio-economic, and educational backgrounds.
Diversity within communities can create a mutual understanding between different groups,
where both fairness and cultural sensitivity are realized. In the end, a diverse community offers
the opportunity for its residents and neighbors to learn and grow from one another and
celebrate their differences.
5. Brings Stability to Families
Stability is an essential aspect of family life and childhood development. Recent studies on
affordable housing have linked the positive behavior of children to stability in housing. A major
takeaway from these reports is the knowledge of how much poor quality housing can cause a
strain on children’s emotional and behavioral patterns.
There have also been multiple reports linking residential instability as an indicator of behavioral
problems among low-income children. These and many other statistics indicate what affordable housing can do to the lives of many families. The building of more affordable housing is among
the most cost-effective ways of lifting families and communities out of poverty.
A stable place to call home, with caretakers who know they can afford next month’s rent, will
grant children adequate stability to grow and learn. As a result, we can create families that are
happier and healthier, with more time to spend together thanks to time saved from previously
overly-long commutes, or time saved by only having to work one job rather than cobble
together the income from several in order to pay rent on non-affordable housing.
Getting Started in the Affordable Housing Development Process
Affordable housing matters because having a place to call home can improve the quality of life for any person—whether they are renting, utilizing affordable housing, or owning a home. Everyone deserves to have comfortable housing they can afford available to them.