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December 29, 2023

Busting Myths About Affordable Housing

By Alexa Johnson

Amidst the ongoing housing crisis, the term “affordable housing” has become a buzzword, often misconstrued and shrouded in myths. This article endeavors to dissect the affordable housing myths and juxtapose them with affordable housing facts, shedding light on the myriad benefits that affordable housing brings to communities.

Debunking Common Affordable Housing Myths

Myth: Affordable Housing Depreciates Nearby Property Values
This myth has been debunked through numerous studies. For example, an analysis of 3,083 low-income housing projects from 1996 to 2006 in the nation’s 20 least affordable markets found no significant effect on home values located near a low-income housing project, with a few exceptions​​. Another study from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy also affirmed that housing built using the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) does not lower nearby property values​​. The National Low Income Housing Coalition states that 85% of affordable housing meets or exceeds federal quality standards, often matching or surpassing the condition of neighboring properties​​.

Myth: Affordable Housing Is a Burden on Municipal Resources
Contrary to this myth, affordable housing can actually enhance local tax revenues by improving or replacing substandard housing. In fact, Habitat Charlotte Region homeowners have paid over $20 million in property taxes over the past 40 years. Affordable housing owners actively contribute to the local economy through the taxes they pay, the money they spend on local businesses, and the increased property values and revenue they bring to a neighborhood​​.

Myth: Affordable Housing Perpetuates Poverty
Affordable housing serves as a stepping stone for low and moderate-income families, offering a stable living environment from which they can pursue better economic opportunities. By having a stable home, children are able to build long-term relationships with peers, teachers, and mentors, which is key to increasing performance in schools. This stability also increases the likelihood that children will be able to attend college​​.

Myth: Affordable Housing Looks “Cheap and Undesirable”
Builders of affordable housing must comply with all the same design and construction standards as market-rate projects. In fact, because affordable housing projects often rely on public funding, they are subject to additional restrictions and higher standards than market-rate housing​​.

Myth: Affordable Housing Brings Increased Crime
There are no studies that show affordable housing brings crime to neighborhoods. Families who own their own homes add stability to a neighborhood and lower the crime rate as homeownership increases neighborhood cohesion and encourages cooperation in ridding communities of criminal activity​​.

Myth: Affordable Housing Is Just Another Government Hand-Out
Actually, wealthy homeowners benefit the most from federal housing subsidies through tax deductions for mortgage interests and property taxes paid. Affordable housing provides a net gain to governments at every level when considering improvements in property values, increases in taxes paid by stable employment, and enhanced revenues from a better-educated populace​​.

Myth 7: Affordable Housing Only Benefits the Very Poor, Everyone Else Pays
A lack of affordable housing impacts a wide range of individuals including employers, seniors, low-income populations, immigrants, low-wage or entry-level workers, firefighters, police officers, military personnel, and teachers. The lack of affordable housing affects tax revenues, business retention of qualified workers, and the amount of money available to spend in those businesses, thereby impacting working- and middle-class families and the nation at large​​.

The narrative surrounding affordable housing ought to shift from misconception to appreciation. Affordable housing is not merely a shelter over one’s head — it’s a catalyst for community development and individual growth. Here’s how:

  • Economic Mobility: Affordable housing offers a solid foundation from which individuals and families can pursue education and job opportunities.
  • Community Stability: Stable housing fosters a sense of community, encouraging social interaction and neighborhood cohesion.
  • Health Benefits: Stable, affordable housing significantly contributes to better health outcomes by reducing stress and providing a safe environment.
  • Educational Advancement: Affordable housing can have a positive impact on children’s education and opportunities, creating a conducive environment for learning.

Affordable housing is not a mere policy term — it’s a tangible solution to a growing crisis. It is a cornerstone for building stronger, more vibrant communities. It’s a conduit through which individuals can break the cycle of poverty, enriching not only their lives but the fabric of the society in which they live.

By debunking affordable housing myths and understanding the facts about affordable housing, we can foster a more informed dialogue and take constructive steps toward alleviating the housing crisis.

At Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region, we rely on our donors, volunteers, and corporate partners to make our work possible. They are the ones who provide the benefits of homeownership to the individuals we serve by contributing to our programs, and there are many different ways to contribute to the crucial work that we do. 

Through faith, innovation, and passion — and thanks to the support of countless community partners, volunteers, donors, and advocates — Habitat Charlotte Region has made a significant impact in Charlotte and the surrounding area since its founding.

We envision a world where everyone has a decent place to live, and have served over 4,000 families as we work to make that goal a reality. We seek to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. We are committed to serving the community while recognizing that change and adaptability are key to intensifying our impact.

Habitat Charlotte Region welcomes volunteers, supporters, and potential homeowners from all backgrounds. You can help us make a difference in the lives of others in the community by signing up to volunteer with us today! You can also get involved by supporting our work with a donation or even exploring our Homebuyer Program!

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