Finding Decent, Affordable Housing Is a Struggle for Families

The real estate boom that has gone on for the past few years has shown no signs of stopping. The inventory of new construction and existing homes for sale is at an all-time low, and the prices of homes are at an all-time high. Houses are on the market for mere weeks by the time they sell. The rental market is just as challenging. As many people are priced out of the home buying market, they're persisting in the rental market. This leaves few available rental units that are affordable. In many communities, families are hit especially hard by the lack of available housing that's affordable, safe and decent.

Cities Try to Help

On December 4, Evansville, IN, announced that it would offer $500,000 for low-income housing units that are safe and in good condition. This contribution will be for a project slated for completion in 2021. The project will have 500 rental units that are all reserved for the city's low-income residents.

Californians Face Increasing Risk of Flooded Properties

Home prices in California have been much higher than the national average for a long time. Sea level rise is putting many of the available affordable housing units at risk of loss due to flooding. Some of the communities most affected by the sea level rise include Corte Madera, Foster City and Suisun City, which are all in the San Francisco Bay area. Affordable housing is often located on the fringes of a community, and in these cases, those housing units are close to the sea, in low-lying areas at risk of inundation from the sea level rise. In this area, the wealthy homeowners built in the hills, leaving the waterside areas for low-income developments. Atlantic City, Boston and New York City have a similar risk of affordable rental units being flooded due to rising sea levels.

Density Is a Concern

Many affordable housing units are located in densely populated areas. These are often ridden with criminal activities that make parents fearful. They don't want to raise their children in a crowded place where it's not safe to go outside to play or even go out on a walk. Many of these densely populated areas have no green spaces or parks. The lack of a grocery store is also a problem for low-income families who don't have access to private transportation.

Creative Ways to Pay for Sky-high Rental Costs

Many people simply can't afford the rent, and moving isn't an option. They may need to live near family for childcare, or maybe they have no car or can't pay for the move. Some individuals have a co-signer for their leases. Others have to work during their retirement or work a second job. Others enter the gig economy. Some have to postpone their retirement or work multiple part-time jobs in order to make ends meet every month.

Rental Units Are Located in Inconvenient Areas

Much like the few affordable housing units in California, which are located in flood-prone ares, many renters find themselves stuck renting in a place that's not convenient to where they work or go to school. When a person finally finds an apartment or rental unit they can afford, it's often in a place that takes a while to get to on a bus or train line. They may be miles away from the doctor or grocery store. If they don't have a car, the everyday activities of buying a week's worth of groceries or going to the pharmacy can be a huge burden.

Rental Units Often Have Structural and Pest Problems

Affordable rental units are often in poor condition. Many may be unsafe or even dangerous. One woman who had to get her son to cosign her lease because the rent is more than 30% of her monthly income noted that the window frames are rotted, and there are gaps around the doors. People told her to move, but she can't afford to take time off work to find a new place to live, and she doesn't have the funds for another security deposit or the cost of movers. Other renters find that their new places are infested with cockroaches, which can lead to serious allergic reactions. Bed bugs are a major problem in many rental units, and residents who move out might end up bringing the bed bugs along with them in their furniture, books or clothing.

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