As the Board President of the HIT Foundation, I was thrilled to see Congress provide a 10 percent increase in funding for programs that address the affordable housing crisis that has prevented families from achieving greater economic stability in our community.
To bring more attention to the affordable housing crisis advocates, elected officials, and concerned citizens are joining together to participate in the 2nd annual Our Homes, Our Voices National Housing Week of Action from May 1-8. In our community, we are meeting on May 3, at 6 p.m., at THE STAR THEATRE at Eagles Point (old Eaton HS auditorium), for a panel discussion on affordable housing in Preble County. Government officials from Federal, State and Local levels have been invited to participate in the discussion, as well as local advocates and consumers. We hope our community neighbors will join us.
In Preble County and across the nation, far too many families– including low income seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and families with children – struggle to keep a roof over their heads or are experiencing homelessness. More families are renting their homes than ever before, and our nation’s investments in affordable housing have not kept pace. As a result, rents are increasing everywhere. Across our county, there is a shortage of rental homes affordable and available to low income households. Many of these households are severely cost burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. Severely cost burdened poor households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice other necessities like healthy food and healthcare to pay the rent, and to experience unstable housing situations like evictions. Because “the rent eats first,” as sociologist and author of Evicted Matthew Desmond says, these families are forced to make harmful tradeoffs and skimp on groceries, medical care, and other basic needs.
We need to continue to make a bold and sustained commitment to ensure that everyone has a safe, accessible and affordable home. Because when we invest in affordable homes, we invest in our neighbors, our communities, and America as a whole – from increased employment and economic mobility to improved health and better education.
A wide body of research indicates that a child’s neighborhood and home life have a significant impact on their performance in school. For every additional year a child spends in a better neighborhood environment, their economic outcome as an adult improves, as indicated by measures such as income, likelihood of college attendance, and probability of avoiding teenage pregnancy.
Children in low income households that live in affordable housing score better on cognitive development tests than those growing up in households with unaffordable rents. Providing housing assistance allows for greater stability for children from low-income homes. When children switch schools frequently due to instability or homelessness, they’re more likely to struggle academically and display behavioral problems, and less likely to go on to graduate from high school.
We firmly believe that all people deserve an affordable home, and no one should be forced to give up food and basic healthcare to keep a roof over their heads.