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GIVE HOUSING A VOICE: TOOLKIT FOR COMMUNITY LEADERS

Overview:  Community leaders take responsibility for the well-being and improvement of their communities.  Strong communities flourish by providing adequate and affordable housing to each of its members.  Homes are an integral piece of any community because they serve as the foundation for building secure neighborhoods, fostering one’s health, economic opportunity and educational success.   By allocating public and private resources and connecting to federal policymakers, local officials as well as other community leaders, community leaders can affect positive on policies to help foster vibrant communities, eliminate homelessness and create homes.

Talking Points on Benefits of Affordable Housing for Community Development

Providing Housing for the Local Workforce

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines housing as affordable if a family pays no more than 30% of its monthly income for total housing costs (rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance).   Workforce housing is a term that was coined in the 1990s.  It has been used to describe the gap facing those who earn too much to qualify for affordable housing subsidies, but not enough to afford a home.  Workforce housing allows for your community’s teachers, nurses, sales clerks, police officers, firefighters, and other professionals to live near their places of employment. It is essentially housing that working people can afford.  Furthermore, workforce housing contributes to the health and economic diversity of the community, provides stable workforce for employers and allows more family time by reducing commuting distances.

Revitalization of Distressed Areas

Affordable housing serves as a platform for improving community well-being and is essential to urban revitalization.  Developments such as the Housing Credit (or LIHTC) play a significant role in the development of affordable housing; affect the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods and entire communities.  Research has found that development in lower-income neighborhoods increase housing prices, lowers

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines housing as affordable if a family pays no more than 30% of its monthly income for total housing costs (rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance).   Workforce housing is a term that was coined in the 1990s.  It has been used to describe the gap facing those who earn too much to qualify for affordable housing subsidies, but not enough to afford a home.  Workforce housing allows for your community’s teachers, nurses, sales clerks, police officers, firefighters, and other professionals to live near their places of employment. It is essentially housing that working people can afford.  Furthermore, workforce housing contributes to the health and economic diversity of the community, provides stable workforce for employers and allows more family time by reducing commuting distances.

Revitalization of Distressed Areas

Affordable housing serves as a platform for improving community well-being and is essential to urban revitalization.  Developments such as the Housing Credit (or LIHTC) play a significant role in the development of affordable housing; affect the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods and entire communities.  Research has found that development in lower-income neighborhoods increase housing prices, lowers crime rates, and attracts more racially and economically diverse populations.  In addition, development leads also to increased housing values in declining and stable neighborhoods.

Directing Economic Benefits to the Local Community

Affordable housing developments not only contribute to individual communities but also serve as an ongoing source of economic benefits.  The construction and real estate of affordable housing developments substantially increases the income for residents and the tax revenues for state and local governments.  Developments also provide economic opportunity by creating many new jobs.  However, the economic benefits do not end with the construction and real estate activity associated with building the housing developments. The impacts are recurrent because residents of the new housing will shop in local stores, support area services, and pay taxes.

Promoting Economic and Social Integration

For children, economic segregation in their neighborhoods has a greater impact on their economic future than differences in family income.  Children who grow up in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty face lifelong health challenges, increased odds of incarceration and reduced lifetime earnings.  By contrast, when lower-income families live in economically mixed communities, their children have essentially the same health and economic outcomes as children from higher income families.  However, lower-income families are not the only ones who suffer under economic segregation, communities often suffer when economic diversity deteriorates. An unequal access to housing drives sprawling development patterns, worsens traffic congestion, pollutes air quality, increases taxpayer dollars spent on basic infrastructure, and decreases racial, cultural, and economic diversity.

 

Strategies

1) Share your own story.  Talking from your own personal experience is powerful.

2) Educate the public about the realities of the risks they fear.  As a community leader, the public often entrusts you to make the correct decisions to ensure the well-being of the community.  Share the facts and not the argument and keep the public informed about prospective affordable housing projects. 

3) Market the proposal in a more attractive manner.  Present a case for affordable housing that proves its value to the community and share evidence showing the lack of negative externalities.

Resources

Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED)

Community Development in America: A Brief History (Sociological Practice Vol 8 Issue 1 Article 4  Development and Other Community Applications)

Housing Credit (National Council of State Housing Agencies)

Leadership Exchange (Housing Partnership Network)

Post-Recession Housing Market Makes a Modest Recovery (Pattern for Progress 2015 update)

Section 1. Learning How to Be a Community Leader (Community Toolbox)

Social Enterprises (Housing Partnership Network)

The Role of Local Leadership (FEMA)

“Community Leaders” Success Stories

Digging Deep for Community Connection (Karen Miller, community organizer)

Harold Renzo, Stuyvesant Resident Receives Community Inspiration Award

Madeline Fletcher, Executive Director of Newburgh Community Land Bank, Receives Community Partner Award

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