Housing’s Dirty Word: Affordable

NLIHC - Wage to Afford a 2-br Apartment
NLIHC – Wage to Afford a 2-br Apartment

“Affordable” is a dirty word when talking about housing. Why?

The phrase “affordable housing” sends people’s minds into a skid. You lose control in a skid. Affordable equates to Section 8 and that equates to the neighborhood going to hell.

Funny thing though. Affordable means not spending more than 30% of your income on  housing. No one needs to tell you that rents are high and going higher. The map is too small to read easily but the National Low Income Housing Coalition at this link, has plenty of information on the wage required to rent a 2-bedroom apartment in every state.

Illinois Governor's Conference on Affordable Housing
Illinois Governor’s Conference on Affordable Housing

Lucky me. Two conferences are dealing with this very issue. Last month, I was fortunate to attend the annual Illinois Governor’s Conference on Affordable Housing put on by the Illinois Housing Council and the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

The plenary session topic, Reframing Affordable Housing named the problem: Developing affordable housing is a minefield because community resistance–NIMBY (not in my back yard)–immediately kicks into high gear. How can you develop affordable housing if you can’t even use the term?

I’m traveling to New York next week to attend the National Housing Conference Solutions for Housing Communications 2016 Convening. The conference focus is learning to communicate effectively that everyone needs housing  that they can afford and finding it is increasingly rare.

Suitable housing is a more comprehensive term because it takes in to account one’s life stage, life style and budget. Suitable is different when you are 20, 60 or 80. Families with children, those with teenagers, people with disabilities–everyone actually–all have different needs. We, as a civilized society, need to meet those needs effectively.

Home sharing might work for some people. My strategy of partnering with religious and community groups, and creating opportunities for people to mix together often is a good place to start.

If this interests you, I would like to meet with your church, mosque, temple or community organization. Together, let’s lubricate the social gears that will help us stay connected and healthy. For more information, please e-mail terry@newcommunityvision.coop.

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2 thoughts on “Housing’s Dirty Word: Affordable

  1. Terry: In your trip to NY do not overlook the sustainable affordable housing solution provided over the past 45 years by housing cooperatives under the Below Market Rate Interest program. Most of them are still thriving. Do not let people get misled by HUD statistics which many of them having defaulted there HUD insured mortgage because most all of them did mortgage modifications with HUD and paid the HUD held or HUD sold off mortgages in full with interest. There is a need for getting back to such a program which today would need grants as were done for the LIPHRA program to save affordable housing for the low income, no interest loans for the lower income and interest bearing loans for those over 150% or so of medium income. Also have a good time in New York. Herb Fisher

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