The Need for Affordable Housing and the Ongoing Rental Affordability Crisis
This week I attended a Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C focused on ways to improve access to affordable housing in the multifamily market.
The need for more affordable housing continues to be a top priority of mine. Though it has been a decade since the housing crisis of 2008, and our economy has greatly improved since that time, many families, especially those in minority communities were never fully able to recover wealth that was lost during the financial crisis. Demand for rental units vastly increased in the years following the recession, and the availability of affordable rental units has not kept pace. Rental prices have also been increasing at a much faster rate than wage growth. Additionally, millennial adults, burdened with high student loans and limited job opportunities, have put off home-ownership to stay in the rental market. These factors have resulted in a growing rental affordability crisis.
This should be a major focus of legislators. If you don’t have a place to live, then everything else is in jeopardy. You cannot hold a job without an address. You lose income. You lose stability.
According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, “a growing number of moderate-income and fully-employed renter households are cost-burdened, spending at least 30 percent of their income on rent and other housing costs.” Recently, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition found that “there is no state, metropolitan area, or county where a worker earning federal minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40 hour week.”
This is a challenge that not only exists in our urban areas but also in our rural communities. In the rural part of my district there hasn’t been a new multifamily housing development in years. The demand is there but the development has yet to come.
We must address the needs of the millions of Americans who continue to struggle with housing. It is a priority for me and worth undertaking until resolved.
Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress