Today’s affordable housing industry is facing a new wave of low- to middle-income residents with diverse backgrounds, with Millennials and Baby Boomers expected to join the already low-income families, veterans and senior citizens in the need for affordable housing. It will take a collaborative effort and some ingenuity to devise housing solutions that meet all the degrees of needs for each of these populations.
Some sobering statistics, presented by The Hill, include:
- Recent data shows that the U.S. produced 7.3 million fewer homes than needed to keep up with demand and population growth.
- Because of the recent tax reform legislation, it is projected that 235,000 new units of affordable housing will be cut over the next ten years, costing the country 260,000 jobs.
- Nowhere in the U.S. can a full-time worker earning federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment.
- According to University of Chicago research, about one in ten young adults (ages 18 to 25) experience some form of homelessness in a year.
- Seventy percent of college students graduate with unpaid student loans.
- The median wage of 25- to 34-year-old Americans has been stagnant since the 1970s.
So, how can the industry create housing that will meet the varying needs of each of these cohorts? Richard F. Burns, president and CEO of The NHP Foundation, says, “We are optimistic that…it can be done by a disparate group with common goals. In this case, a cross-country industry collaborative is needed, involving partners from healthcare, institutional investment, public policy, urban design, government agencies and social service organizations to create a solution. Congress will also have to address affordable housing funding needs since they private sector cannot do it alone.”
There are instances of healthcare companies entering the housing space, like Kaiser Permanente. And tech giants Facebook and Google are planning workforce housing for many of their younger employees. Additionally, NHP works to shape onsite resident services tailored to the needs of both families and seniors.
With additional assistance government resources, “the industry will be more likely to meet the challenges by leveraging the ability to acquire and preserve older properties, and utilize a wide range of funding sources to create new homes for renters across the nation, says Burns.”