Housing Hope: Solutions for Affordable Housing for Families
The affordable housing crisis has hit families hard across the United States, including here in central Pennsylvania.
As housing costs continue to rise faster than incomes, many working families find themselves priced out of safe and stable housing. This leads to difficult trade-offs and increased risks of eviction, foreclosure, and homelessness.
However, there are reasons to be hopeful. With innovative policies, programs, and partnerships, we can expand access to affordable housing and help families thrive.
Rising Housing Costs
In our region, housing costs have risen dramatically in recent years.
The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is now over $1,000 per month. For families earning minimum wage or working low-paying jobs, that rent is out of reach.
Owning a home is becoming equally unattainable, with median home prices in the $200,000 to $300,000 range. Saving for a down payment while paying high rents is nearly impossible for many.
When so much income goes toward housing, parents struggle to afford childcare, healthcare, transportation and other basic needs.
The stress of unaffordable housing causes mental and physical health strains. It also leads to frequent moves and school changes that disrupt children’s education and social development.
Reasons to Hope
Fortunately, there are proven solutions that can expand affordable housing options for families in need. One is increasing rental assistance programs like Section 8 vouchers. These vouchers limit rental costs to 30% of a household’s income.
With more funding, these programs could help millions more families find stable, decent housing.
Another strategy is building and preserving affordable housing through community land trusts and low-income housing tax credits.
Non-profit and public developers can leverage these tools to construct and maintain affordable apartments, townhomes and single-family homes. Partnerships with employers to provide workforce housing can also expand affordable options, especially near job centers.
At the local level, cities and counties can help through zoning changes, streamlined permitting, and fees reductions to incentivize affordable development. Tenant protections like rent control and eviction diversion programs are other impactful policies.
No Overnight Solutions, But Hope On the Horizon
The affordable housing crisis won’t be solved overnight. But with collaboration, investment and proven solutions, we can ensure that all families have a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.
There is reason to be hopeful that better housing options are on the horizon.