Architect Outlines Causes of Affordable Housing’s Decline in U.S.
In his January 12, 2012 Washington Post article, “Decline of Affordable Housing has Many Causes”, Roger Lewis, architect professor at University of Maryland, outlines the factors that have led to the decreased creation of affordable housing in our country. His commentary is nothing new to those who have recently developed affordable housing or are trying to put together development deals in today’s climate.
The key factors include the increased construction costs associated with affordable housing – current costs are now 6 times what they were in the early 1970s. And the incomes of low and moderate income households have not kept up with this steep increase. A third and equally critical factor is the decreased availability of public subsidies and the size of those that are available which has caused a big gap between the actual costs of developing affordable housing and what potential tenants can afford. Potential developers of affordable housing must seek multiple financing sources and other disincentives to creating homes for low and moderate income households.
Mr. Lewis notes:
Clearly, given America’s current economic conditions and political attitudes, affordable housing remains near the bottom of the problem-solving priority agenda. Hoping for a return to pre-1980 affordable housing policies and practices is wishful thinking, even though building housing for needier citizens could create tens of thousands of jobs.
Regrettably, in the foreseeable future, the affordable housing situation in the United States will at best stay the same, and at worst become considerably more dire.