Two-Step Solution to National Affordable Housing Crisis

For many low-income families, young professionals starting out and elderly individuals on fixed-incomes, choosing multifamily housing and rental properties is a preferred choice of living. But with rental prices rising across the nation, this arrangement is increasingly not an affordable one. To help address their problem, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro has actively advocated for affordable housing, promoting two major steps to solving the crisis.

HUD recently released a report estimating that 7.7 million low-income households live in substandard housing, spend more than half their incomes on rent or both. Secretary Castro stated in his speech last year, and has been touring the country with this message ever since, that the solution to our national affordable housing crisis is to first preserve what affordable housing the country already has and then to build on that foundation. Castro promotes creating a snowball effect to encourage more private funding and more input from governments with supportive legislation.

First, affordable housing that currently exists needs to be preserved – in theory and actuality. Affordable housing advocates, like the National Housing Trust, are taking action to ensure the federal subsidy and low-income restrictions remain in place. This is usually combined with raising new capital to repair the property’s physical needs. A proper face-lift, including new lighting, modern windows and better insulation, would result in energy efficiency and, ultimately, in a longer lifespan for the property.

Through its Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, HUD has been aiding in private housing upkeep. Authorized by Congress under the FY12 HUD appropriations act, the main benefit of RAD is that property owners are no longer burdened with securing private sources of capital funding. Through the RAD process, deferred maintenance issues that have caused Public Housing and other HUD rental stock to deteriorate nationwide can be addressed.

Secondly, Secretary Castro advocates that our nation simply does not have enough affordable housing. It is clear that we have to grow this market to obtain a safe level the nation can use to build on and sustain affordable housing for low-income families. Secretary Castro is taking a multifaceted approach to grow supply to meet demand. The HUD HOME investment Partnerships Program is leveraging $4 in private for every $1 Home funds, leading to more than 1 million new and rehabilitated units for rent or sale to lower income families.

Moving forward, all of this work is making a significant contribution to families and communities from coast-to-coast. As reported by USA Today, Castro states that government should play a major role in reformation for positive change in affordable housing, but that a grassroots initiative can always make a major change as well. Communities across the nation have a large say in this conversation and should support any innovative solution to push a cure for the affordable housing crisis.