Why “Affordable Housing” Fails

Landscape Format

“Many cities spent millions from 2000 to 2008 without building a single unit.”  Amazing what reading local newspapers while on vacation can unearth! See accompanying page-and-a-half LA Times article.

While I acknowledge the enforcement conundrum on contractors, what I still disagree with in municipal affordable housing initiatives is:

  1. Percentage of people making ‘affordable housing’ decisions while closely tied to construction industry.
  2. Decisions the city has made that reduce affordable housing, such as limiting multifamily development.
  3. Believing—or even considering—that people below the median income should be buying a new home – subsidized by anyone other than Habitat for Humanity. That’s why God invented rentals. If people need subsidies to buy a new house, how will they ever be able to afford the bottomless pit called home maintenance?
  4. Converting single family neighborhoods into multifamily without permission of the neighbors involved.
  5. Not making good use of the affordable inventory on hand
  6. Not putting people who actually want/need/and qualify for affordable housing into available units
  7. Not helping people in soon-to-be-demolished trailer parks find alternate housing

I have been suggesting for years that my city could better spend its affordable housing dollars on a database that would match home-seekers with available units. There are myriad reasons this is a good idea. Here are a few:

  • Many low-income people are raising children and working full-time or more at low-paying jobs. They do not have the time or the money to read the local papers looking for affordable rental units.
  • If they have scoured the paper for a few weeks without finding something suitable, they may well have become discouraged and quit looking.
  • There are networks of people who know about affordable housing that may not be advertised in the newspapers, e.g., property managers and Realtors.

Perhaps such an endeavor should be established as a not-for-profit. But that still doesn’t address a city’s mandate to provide affordable housing, nor does it afford a way to manipulate developers into promising affordable units in exchange for building variances.

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    Again, please print and read this article, presented on this page in portrait format (below) for easy printing, and landscape format above for online reading.

    LA Times Affordable Housing Article - Portrait Style Printing
    Portrait Style Printing

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