Tag Archives: poverty

Transforming neighborhoods, building communities

This October marked not only Housing America Month, but also big anniversaries for two of our members: the Warren Housing Authority (R.I.) and Yolo County Housing (Calif.). Each housing authority celebrated by bringing together its residents, elected leaders, colleagues and regional HUD representatives. Sen. Reed _ Housing America Month

On Monday, Oct. 20, the Warren Housing Authority marked its 50th anniversary by recognizing the foresight Warren community leaders had to make a safe, quality, and affordable home for seniors.

“It was 50 years ago that a group of citizens led by Warren’s own Victor Andreozzi approached the town council and asked to form a housing authority,” said Carol Costa, executive director of WHA.  “Today, we celebrate the pioneers who made this possible; the commissioners who guide our vision; the residents who make this place so lively; the administration and staff who make this place tick and the federal, state and town leaders who keep us in business.”

In attendance were Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), State Sen. Walter Felag, Rep. Jan Malik, Rep. Ken Marshall and national housing officials representing NAHRO, New England Regional Council of NAHRO (NERC NAHRO) and Public Housing Association of Rhode Island (PHARI).

During the luncheon, WHA received citations recognizing its 50 years of service to the community from Sen. Whitehouse, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, and the Rhode Island House of Representatives and Senate.

Rep. Cicilline_Housing America Month tweet

On Thursday, Oct. 23, Yolo County Housing celebrated the 30th anniversary of the opening of Riverbend Manor. The property was once a school that closed in 1978 and fell into disrepair. In 1984, it was converted to housing for senior and disabled families. Today, the classrooms have been further updated to provide housing for 63 extremely low-income families. Onsite amenities include a ceramics classroom complete with a kiln, community gardens and a lunch program for senior residents.

California State Assemblyman Roger Dickinson and HUD Division Director Melina Whitehead attended the anniversary celebration as well as former students and instructors of the school.  HUD Division Director Melina Whitehead and Lisa Baker _housing america event

NAHRO congratulates both Warren Housing Authority and Yolo County Housing on their years of service to their communities and thanks them for providing safe, quality, and affordable homes for all!

Yolo County Housing

The True Cost of Not Providing Affordable Housing

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What happens when a family can’t find affordable housing? Sandra J. Newman, director of the John’s Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, recently conducted a study (published in the Journal of Housing Economics) to determine the “impacts of affordable housing on the well-being of children.”  In the study, Newman posits that a family should spend roughly 30 percent of their income on housing–no more, but also no less. This ratio is much more difficult to keep for low-income families. Last year, the International Business Times released a report detailing the expenditures of low-income, average, and wealthy American households. Their report finds that the average income for a low-income family in 2013 was $17,563 and that they spent roughly $10,000 of that income on housing. For every dollar a low-income family spent on housing in 2013, they only spent $0.03 on education.

Lack of affordable housing options for families creates other, less obvious costs. When families are forced to spend more on housing and necessities such as food and transportation, educational expenses – for field trips, books, computers and other learning aids — are no longer affordable. Newman believes that providing such educational opportunities is essential to cognitive development.  Newman’s research showed that when families transitioned to spending 30 percent of their income on housing, they spent $98 more on the enrichment of their children.

But lowering cost burdens isn’t enough. Affordable rental housing also needs be built in safe, decent and healthy neighborhoods. In an interview with John’s Hopkins University, Newman said, “the markedly poorer performance of children in families with extremely low housing cost burdens undercuts the housing policy assumption that a lower housing cost burden is always best. Rather than finding a bargain in a good neighborhood, they’re living in low-quality housing with spillover effects on their children’s development.”

These studies underline the importance of providing decent, safe, affordable rental housing to all, and what is at stake when we fail to do so. The burden placed on low-income families should never be reflected in the development of their children; having a roof over your head should never come at the cost of a child’s education.

By: Gabby Richards, NAHRO Public Affairs Intern

NAHRO Response to the State of the Union Address

Last night, the President properly focused attention on the matter of income inequality and in  doing so urged Congress to take immediate steps in this “year of action” to address the widening gap between rich and poor in America.  With 2014being the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty” we agree that more immediate and more directed action to assist the most vulnerable and those struggling to make ends meet in our nation is not only wholly appropriate but absolutely necessary.  With this in mind, however, we were disappointed that the President failed to mention the important role that affordable housing plays or should play in this larger endeavor.  In 2011, for example, less than 5 percent of affordable housing units produced in this country were affordable to minimum wage workers.  Also, nearly 50 percent of renters pay more than 30 percent of their income towards housing according to a study conducted by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Having a safe and decent place to call home is essential to the health and wellbeing of families, seniors, returning vets and the disabled, whether they be rich or poor.  The public policy goal of a decent home and suitable living environment for all has long been the fulcrum that has enabled this nation to assist those in need of a place to call home.  Public Housing, Section 8 rental assistance, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the HOME program and CDBG all were created to help provide a foundation to enable the federal government to assist low and very low income families in need of shelter who otherwise might go without.  The tragedy of homeless in America today is in fact a cruel reminder and a link in the extreme to some of the same income driven issues the President raised tonight and the Administration seeks to address in the months to follow.

We commend the Administrations heightened focus on poverty in America, income inequality and the needs of America’s working poor.  Housing and redevelopment authorities who are essential players on affordable housing’s front line stand ready to work with the Administration and we seek to play an important part in helping in the larger effort to assist the working poor. To do so in an otherwise difficult budget environment, however, will require a recommitment on the part of the federal government to provide the tools and resources necessary to enable local agencies to be effective and to attack this problem in a responsible manner.

We hope our nation’s leaders break the cycle of partisanship in Washington and we hope that Congress, on a bipartisan basis, working with the Administration, can reach early agreement on a plan of action to close the income gap that exists today.  That plan, we believe, must recognize that the provision of safe, decent and affordable housing is an essential part of the solution.  From this necessary recommitment to address the needs of those who have less, we hope will come an overwhelming reaffirmation of the need to close the nation’s affordable housing gap through the production of new affordable housing and the preservation of the nation’s irreplaceable stock of affordable housing.