September 10, 2018

Community Developments: Senator Young’s Op-ed Discusses Indiana’s Housing Affordability Challenges

Community Developments

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Community Developments: Senator Young’s Op-ed Discusses Indiana’s Housing Affordability Challenges

  • In an op-ed in IndyStar, Senator Todd Young (R-IN) discusses the impact of housing affordability challenges on his constituents in Indiana. He notes that an inability to access safe and decent affordable housing has been shown to affect educational performance and economic mobility, and the housing affordability problem will only worsen if it is not promptly addressed. Senator Young also mentions legislation he has introduced to address the affordable housing crisis nationwide, including the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act, which is designed to incentivize greater choice and mobility in that program, and the bipartisan Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, which would evaluate the impact of the lack of affordable housing and make recommendations to Congress on how to use affordable housing to improve life outcomes for Americans. (IndyStar, September 9) When the task force bill was introduced in July, Enterprise President Laurel Blatchford stated that “millions of working families, seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities lack well-designed, affordable homes in thriving communities, which limits the opportunities they have in many areas of life. We applaud this bill and these Senators’ dedication to supporting low- and moderate-income people.”
  • California’s increasing homeless population is directly related to the rising affordability challenges faced by low income renters in the state, writes Adriene Hill in The Mercury News. On a given night, an average of 134,000 Californians sleep in a homeless shelter or on the street, a 13.7 percent jump from 2016 to 2017. Behind this increase are rising rent prices and stagnating wages—the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) estimates that 29 percent of California renters spend more than half of their income on rent, leaving little room to handle medical emergencies or build their savings. Hill, an editor for a statewide media collaboration, advocates for increased emphasis on preventing homelessness before it happens by increasing funding for affordable housing development. (The Mercury News, September 9)
  • A study released by researchers working with Boston University’s Initiative on Cities provides insight on the demographics of those creating so-called “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) resistance to affordable housing at the municipal level. By coding the minutes of planning and zoning meetings across 97 Massachusetts towns, the researchers showed that opponents of affordable housing were far more likely to voice their opinions at meetings than those who support it, even in municipalities where the majority of voters support affordable housing initiatives at the ballot box. The disconnect between the general public and the opinions voiced at meetings gives NIMBYism an outsized say in the planning and zoning process and presents a challenge to advocates for affordable housing.

Upcoming Event

  • From December 4-7, the Housing Assistance Council will hold its biennial Rural Housing Conference. The conference theme is Building Rural Communities, which emphasizes “HAC’s longstanding and ongoing commitment to improving housing conditions for the poor across rural America.” Participants will be introduced to best practices for rural housing development and have the opportunity to meet stakeholders and advocates from local nonprofits, federal agencies, state and local governments, and other industry professionals.

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