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November 4, 2022

What Is Affordable Housing and Why Is It Important?

By Kevin Donaldson

There are a few necessities that everyone in the world requires in order to survive. These include food, water, and shelter. While everyone needs these things to live, not everyone has reliable access to them. But everyone deserves to.

Having a safe place to live is something that every single person wants. However, housing costs have skyrocketed in recent decades due to inflation, recessions, and housing shortages, all resulting in multiple housing crises that have made it difficult for most Americans to afford a home. The main issue in the affordable housing crisis is that there is greater demand for housing than there is a supply of homes or units available, which then drives up the prices of the housing that is available.

In fact, the most recent housing shortage that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic—and is still ongoing—has caused housing prices to increase by over 40%. This has resulted in the average price of a house in the U.S. rising to nearly $350,000 in 2022. However, that average price accounts for each state in the country, so average housing prices in various states and cities will differ depending on their particular location.

No matter where you live, housing prices are increasing and making it more difficult for many Americans to afford their mortgage or rent. But what can be done about it? You’ve probably heard the term “affordable housing” before. The phrase seems pretty self-explanatory, but do you really know what it means? In this article, we’ll explain what affordable housing is and why it is so important.

Affordable Home

What Is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing is generally defined as housing where the owner or occupant isn’t paying more than 30% of their gross income for housing costs. This includes your mortgage or rent as well as utilities, such as electricity, water, gas, internet, sewer, trash collection, and more. For example, if your gross income is $60,000, then affordable housing in your situation would mean spending no more than $18,000 per year (or $1,500 per month) on housing costs.

Housing affordability depends on several factors, including mortgage rates, rental prices, and local availability, among other aspects. The cost of most housing in the U.S. is determined by rental companies, banks, real estate appraisers, and more. These are all businesses whose main aim is to make money. Because of this, they often don’t care about whether housing is actually affordable to residents, as long as they make a profit.

As prices rise and supply dips, housing is becoming less affordable for an increasing number of Americans. Often, residents around the country end up spending the majority of their monthly income on housing costs, leaving them little to cover other essential things in their lives like food, transportation, medical care, and more. This especially impacts individuals with low and moderate income, as they cannot afford to pay more for their housing. That’s where affordable housing initiatives come in.

Cities, municipalities, and even certain organizations help to provide affordable housing for residents in their communities through affordable housing programs and other endeavors. These efforts involve building new single- and multifamily housing units, as well as renovating existing ones in order to provide safe, quality, and affordable housing for members in the community who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

Students learning to plant a flower in Charlotte, NC

Why Is Affordable Housing Important?

As mentioned above, many of the businesses involved with the real estate and housing market are simply looking to make a profit and not actively helping residents afford their living spaces. When residents are forced to pay more than they should for housing, it can then negatively impact other areas of their life, what they are able to afford, and their overall quality of life.

Affordable housing initiatives seek to solve this issue by providing housing units that residents can afford. This provides a safe place for them to live, a quality home that they don’t have to continually invest more money in to fix, and helps to improve the quality of their lives by easing the financial burden of their housing.

Without affordable housing programs and efforts, many residents would be spending the majority of their monthly income on housing costs. Others might be stuck in unsafe living conditions, and some may even end up homeless.

Affordable housing is particularly important in areas where populations are rising. With the 2022 midterm elections happening soon, many ballots include local measures to fund affordable housing measures. In the Charlotte, North Carolina region, there are currently $50 million in affordable housing bonds on the ballot. These bonds would help to provide affordable housing to residents in the Charlotte area, helping to improve their quality of life as they gain a safe and stable place to call home.

At Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region, we understand the importance of affordable housing because we work every day to make it a reality for many different families. However, we rely on our donors and volunteers 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. Some of the main ways they do this involve providing the land that we build on, donating money to cover the costs of home construction, and volunteering their time to build the homes. Without them, there wouldn’t be homes for families to build a life in.

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 3,500 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, learning more about us, or even exploring our Homebuyer Program!

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