Why Poor Americans Don’t Get Affordable Housing

Eligible Families Sit on Waiting Lists, Awaiting Housing

On September 18, 2016, the news website FiveThirtyEight reported on “Why So Many Poor Americans Don’t Get Help Paying For Affordable Housing.”

“In 2013, everything crumbled all at once,” Makera Meng said. She and her husband ran a business — an international grocery store — in South Portland, Maine, where they also owned a home. Meng’s story is one of many Americans struggling to afford housing. At one time, she owned her own home and business but a health crisis in her extended family and the breakup of her marriage led to her current housing crisis.

“I’m a good citizen, I work hard and I pay taxes,” she said. But she hasn’t been able to catch a break.”

Meng and her children qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher but sit on a waiting list like too, too many other Americans.

“And the problem is getting worse: The share of poor families that devote more than half of their income to housing costs has risen by 10 percentage points since 1991.”

“Activists and experts say the U.S. is in the midst of its worst affordable housing crisis in decades. ‘The evidence does suggest that since the 1960s, this is the worst it’s ever been,’ said Barbara Sard, vice president for housing policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonpartisan research and policy institute. It pursues federal and state policies designed both to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways.

It applies its deep expertise in budget and tax issues and in programs and policies that help low-income people, in order to help inform debates and achieve better policy outcomes.

Housing advocates point to two separate but related problems – there is a lack of affordable housing and the price of rental housing is rising. This is compounded by wages that have not risen.

“Second, government housing-assistance programs haven’t kept up with demand even though new research suggests that unaffordable housing is an important cause of poverty.”

But increasing funding for the federal Housing Choice Voucher problem could help those families like Meng’s stabilize their lives and move out of poverty.

Why So Many Poor Americans Don’t Get Help Paying For Housing

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