The Elephant in the Room

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Nationwide, nearly 11 million households spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities. There were 43.3 million renters in 2016 which drove up rental prices (Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2017). Although the housing market has recovered for many households, very low and extremely low-income families continue to lack access to affordable rental housing. Seventy-one percent of extremely low-income renters spend more than half of their incomes on housing, leaving them few resources for other necessities and putting them at risk of losing their homes.(Out of Reach, 2018).

The housing affordability crisis is no longer an issue that is easily addressed with a little effort by family service agencies, schools, health clinics and other child- and family-serving agencies – by referring a family experiencing housing distress to a city agency or legal aid organization, or by offering advice and support but little practical direct assistance.  And while federal rental assistance programs are facing significant proposed cuts, we must do more!


Federal housing assistance (such as housing choice vouchers, property-based rental assistance, and public housing) reaches only one in four of those in need, and funding levels in the past few years have reduced their reach even further. Those who are receiving federal assistance could have their housing stability undermined due to recent proposals for HUD budget cuts by Congress and the Trump administration. Around 200,00 families are at risk of losing their housing.  In America today, there are just three rental homes affordable and available for every ten extremely low income households.Large numbers of families in every region of the country are unable to find housing at rents they can afford. Not one state or metropolitan area has an adequate supply. (Out of Reach, 2018).


We must address the issue creatively and with innovation – because we cannot “build ourselves out of this mess!”

The need for more affordable rental housing in every state nationwide has  become “the elephant in the room.”


Supplementary Reading:


Bill Moyers: Record Number of Americans Can’t Afford their Rent
Hunger in America: 1 in 7 rely on food banks