With home prices falling through the roof, cheap auctions and foreclosure sales by the hundreds of thousands offering rock bottom price opportunities, some housing pundits across the nation are claiming “there is no longer an affordable housing crisis.”
Dead Wrong. Those who claim there is too much affordable housing ignore the needs of the very low income segment of our aging population. In fact, such housing skeptics are ignoring the needs of the average middle income Americans as well. While home prices may be lower than anyone can remember in certain locales, the concept of sustainable housing is being ignored.
Will the hundreds of thousands of families across the nation who need to purchase a house on the cheap be able to obtain credit to purchase the “American Dream?” Will underfunded, restricted and budget- threatened government finance programs be too tough for those with negative credit and income histories to qualify? Once in the homes, will the new owners be able to afford consistent monthly payments and maintain their homes? Just because prices are lower does not mean the need for work force housing has evaporated with the financial climate change. Lower prices does not mean the average income earner in 2009 can pay the deposits and fees to secure a roof over their head. Just factor in insurance, taxes, energy costs and…you get the picture.
One of the most drastic ideas currently being floated is to eliminate current requirements that builders provide “affordable” units in new developments. Not only is the definition of “affordable” ambiguous, but so is such a policy. It is short-sighted. When the real estate market recovers, what is termed “obtainable” today may be most unobtainable in future years.
Quite simply, claiming there is no further need, given current economic circumstances, to encourage work force housing through governmental incentives is a threat to the fabric of each community. If you don’t believe that, ask the retired teacher with little or no savings, the aged veteran with limited income, or the disabled who cannot work on a steady basis how they can afford the “median price” of homes even in today’s market. Median prices across the nation are still out of reach for millions. Ask the young couple just getting started who owe staggering amounts for educational loans. Ask mobile home dwellers who are being displaced and cannot scratch together enough to rent a modest apartment to prevent homelessness. Ask the local nurse or store clerk who can’t save any money for the future. They can’t qualify for homeownership…even now.
Listen up. Inclusionary housing policies that provide for all segments of our society must be consistent, and not tossed out with myopic and trendy views of the new economy