The affordability of housing especially by low income people is an issue that has received great attention in the recent past. High housing prices may at times expose an individual or a family to a chance of homelessness especially when their earnings are not enough to cater for both housing and other basic requirements.
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In the United States, individuals whose incomes are constant cannot afford to pay for the rising housing costs. Therefore, persons looking for affordable housing are faced with barriers that more often turn out to be insurmountable.
As a result of this, low-income people experience unequal and unfair access to affordable housing. Moreover, the complexity of different housing policies makes it almost impossible to get affordable housing (LaBella & Waggener).This essay looks at barriers of affordable housing for people on low incomes.
Affordable housing has been measured by the ratio of house incomes to the price of available housing. For more than a hundred years, it has been an advocated measure for housing affordability that families should spend less than one-quarter of their earnings for housing disbursals.
Many economists such as Ernest Engel in Norris and Decland (2008) have been wary concerning the issue of affordability. Engel has projected an economic law which states that the ratio of a family’s earnings used for housing is fixed irrespective of the earnings of the household.
This law focuses on food as the most important expenditure in a household. Of importance, food prices would shift based on the size and age of the members of a household and the power to provide for oneself. This ratio could be employed in the making of decisions for reducing risks in leasing a house or giving mortgage to a particular household (Norris & Redmond 2007).
The difficulty of the housing process has created many barriers to access for low income applicants. Furthermore, the costs involved in the operation and maintenance of homes have some effects on the affordability of housing for the low-income persons. Utility costs such as those of natural gas and heating fuels have gone up, thus, these fluctuations affect the affordability of housing (Franko 2009).
The local government policies that raise the costs of construction and place restrictions on the provision of housing are another major reason for the lack of affordable housing for the poor. Impositions of fees as well as inclusionary zoning are especially pricey. If the government was to cut down these prices, then affordable housing would be more available for the low-income individuals (Moriarty 2009)
Along with the creation of more affordable housing, the government ought to take into account other barriers that cause homelessness. These barriers will then need to be looked at in order to achieve the objective of bringing homelessness to an end.
Refining the standard of housing affordability might lead to effectual dispersion of government housing aid and a greater pool of likely home buyers. However, it does not address the difficulties faced by low-income households in acquiring affordable housing posed by increased housing costs (Housing Affordability 2007).
Since affordability standards depend upon the housing costs and income, trends in the distribution of income are significant in explaining the rise in housing costs realised by low-income families. According to Quigley and Raphael, typical households in the United States nowadays find that incomes have not kept step with the price of housing.
Individuals who work at low-salary, insecure occupations are especially susceptible to homelessness. Increasing costs of housing construction is another factor that has led to increase in costs of home ownership. The United States census report in 2000 has indicated that the average price for a brand single family was $207,000.
In 1990, it was $149,800 and, in 1980, it was less than $80,000. An account for this increase would be due to the rise in market demand. Additionally, regulative barriers and building codes raise the costs of housing as well (Quigley & Raphael 2004).
Further, lack of affordable housing is worsened by the fact that some disadvantaged people do not have access to housing. Segregation along lines of race, family size, age, and disability affect such families in terms of affordability of housing (Park & Combs 1994). These families impact the demand of home ownership.
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Furthermore, they are the households that are at a high risk of proceedings due to their dubious lending practices which affect their extended housing stableness (Bourassa 1996).
The data taken from the King County from a 2009 rental housing supply, indicate that there is a huge gap between the actual costs of housing and the prices that households can fairly afford. The chart below represents the rental units affordable to low-income households in King County.
Source: Housing Affordability 2007
Deficiency in affordable housing directly relates to homelessness. As the accessibility of affordable housing reduces, the rate of homelessness goes up. In order for the issue of homelessness to be addressed, the problem of deficient affordable housing has to be dealt with first.
Trends in family earnings, housing prices, building and demolition of housing, suggest that fears concerning housing affordability will continue to intensify. Solid public policies, dedications from the private sector, and public support are necessary to diminish shortages of affordable housing. Simultaneously, people are making use of several strategic options to deal with lack of affordable housing.
Communities have become cognizant of income elements that impact affordability of housing and are pushing for development in jobs as well as more liveable salaries. They are re-examining regulative barriers to building of affordable housing all around the state and setting up alternate policies. It can only be expected that affordable housing will, in the near future, become a touchstone of community welfare.
List of References
Bourassa, S 1996, “Measuring the Affordability of Home-Ownership”, Urban Studies, pp. 1867-1877.
Franko, J 2009, Barriers to Affordable Housing. Web.
Housing Affordability 2007. Web.
LaBella, J & Waggener, A, Affordable Housing: Barriers to Equal Opportunity and Access, Housing Works, Boston. Moriarty, S 2009, Barriers to Affordable Housing. Web.
Norris, M & Redmond, D 2007, Housing Contemporary Ireland: Policy, Society and Shelter, Springer, New York.
Park, S & Combs, R 1994, “Housing Affordability among ElderlyFemale Heads of Household in Nonmetropolitan Areas”, Journal of Family and Economic Issues, pp. 317-328.
Quigley, J & Raphael, S 2004, “Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn’t It More Affordable?” Journal of Economic Perspectives, pp. 191-214.