Today, the National Low Income Housing Coalition publishes our annual analysis of recent data, and the results are stark.
Our country is in the grips of a severe and pervasive housing affordability crisis. Nationally, there is a campaign, a coalition of nearly 100 leading national organizations from a wide range of fields, including education, health, mental health, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, faith-based, social work, civil rights, criminal justice and city government. The campaign calls for major federal investments in the national Housing Trust Fund to increase the affordable housing supply, in rental assistance through vouchers or a tax credit, and in emergency cash assistance for housing stability and homelessness prevention.
We are not alone in our call to action. According to the results of a forthcoming public opinion poll we commissioned, the vast majority of Americans (85 percent) believe that ensuring everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a “top national priority.” Eight in ten Americans (82 percent) want elected leaders to address housing affordability and nine in ten think we should do more to prevent homelessness. Eighty percent believe that Congress should “take major action” to make housing more affordable for low-income people.
The overwhelming support for these solutions is clear, as is the extraordinary need. Inaction is expensive—through avoidable health care costs, lost work-productivity, decreased educational attainment, lowered tax revenue—and the affect housing poverty has on struggling families and communities is severe. Rather than helping to solve this crisis, President Trump’s budget is a step backwards. It would impose punitive measures ostensibly to “increase family self-sufficiency” yet instead it would jeopardize family stability by compounding the financial burdens they face through higher rents and harmful work requirements that often push families deeper into poverty.
Americans overwhelmingly support concrete solutions and increased investments: the poll found that 86 percent favor expanding investments in housing development programs that build more units affordable for the lowest-income people and 82 percent favor expanding funding for rental assistance to ensure that the everyone eligible for and in need of rental assistance receives it. Nearly nine in 10 Americans believe we should provide emergency crisis assistance for households with the lowest incomes to help cover the rent if they experience an unexpected economic hardship, such as losing a job or a medical emergency not covered by insurance. Emergency assistance will help avoid eviction and the spiraling down into poverty that results.
Leaders in Congress—some of whom are also on the presidential campaign trail—are responding to the need by introducing bold, ambitious, and much-needed housing bills, the likes of which we haven’t seen in generations.
We can end homelessness and housing poverty: We have the data, the solutions, the public support and, as a country, the resources. A major federal reinvestment in solutions to make homes affordable for the lowest-income people is long overdue. We lack only the political will to fund the solutions at the scale necessary. It is time to act.
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