Equitably Housing (Almost) Half a Nation of Renters
53 Pages Posted: 10 May 2016 Last revised: 24 Mar 2017
Date Written: May 9, 2016
America’s population of renters is growing faster than the supply of available rental units. Rental vacancies are reaching new lows, and rental rates are reaching new highs. Millions of former homeowners have lost their homes in foreclosure and, due to today’s much tighter mortgage underwriting realities, will not realistically re-enter the ranks of owner-occupants. For a number of reasons – variety of incomes, different stages in life, and a range of personal preferences and lifestyles – homeownership is not for everyone. And yet federal government housing policy has consistently prioritized homeownership over renter-specific issues, such as affordability and rental supply and distribution. State and local housing assistance programs are shockingly insufficient to meet ballooning needs. Reallocation of focus and funds at the federal level, however, could help grow the supply of rental housing and provide renters at all income levels a realistic chance of occupying quality and affordable rental housing, even in a “high opportunity” neighborhood. The government must first reorient its myopic housing policy focus away from an over-emphasis on building homeownership. It must free up government funds for use in support of affordable rental housing. In addition, government funds and agency efforts should be carefully allocated to increase the availability of housing assistance and government gap funding of affordable housing as well as to encourage private investment in the supply of affordable rental housing.
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