Tenants, landlords and tenants in some communities are struggling to afford the cost of housing in the wake of the global financial crisis, which led to rising housing costs, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLHHC) said in a report released Tuesday.
The NLHHC’s report highlights a number of issues in which the country is struggling to meet rising housing needs, including an oversupply of housing, lack of affordable rentals and a lack of adequate and timely rental subsidies.
It is a reality that is being faced by millions of Americans and millions more around the country, said Jennifer H. Witte, director of the NLHCC’s National Housing Policy Center.
The report also notes that many of the problems facing renters are related to rising costs of rent, which has been an ongoing issue for some years, said Witte.
In the past, many renters relied on landlords to cover the cost, but that is no longer the case, she said.
The growing rental crisis, coupled with a decline in homeownership, is the main obstacle for many renters to afford housing, Witte said.
And there are a number other factors that make it difficult to afford a new home.
While many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, others are making large investments in their retirement, Wittes said.
But many are not saving enough to protect themselves in the event of a housing collapse.
The shortage of affordable housing in some areas of the country can be traced to a number and varied factors.
Among the issues are the lack of rental subsidies, which are often provided by state and local governments.
In some areas, such as New York and Chicago, rental subsidies are not available for most renters.
The financial costs of rental housing also come in part from a lack on a variety of levels, including the inability to secure a mortgage, the need for government assistance such as Section 8 housing vouchers, the ability to make payments on a mortgage or credit card, and the ability of landlords to deduct their rents from their income.
Housing advocates have long argued that housing assistance should be available to all Americans regardless of income level.
But the lack a reliable, consistent supply of rental vouchers for renters has left many renters without the means to pay for their own home.
“There’s a lot of folks who can’t afford it, who are paying more than they should, who have been priced out of the market,” said Witts.
Witte said that the housing crisis and the rise in foreclosures in many communities have been a major contributing factor to the rising costs.
The foreclosure crisis has been especially difficult to solve, she added.
Homes can become more expensive as they become more valuable, so that is a real concern.
“It’s really not that the homeownership rate is going down,” she said, “it’s that we’re paying more to rent than we should be paying.”
In some places, foreclosing has been particularly severe.
In North Carolina, foreclosed homes are often the first thing renters see when they search for housing, and many are struggling, said Robert E. Anderson, executive director of North Carolina Homeownership Council.
The state’s foreclosure crisis is especially difficult in low-income communities, where many have struggled to afford new housing, Anderson said.
He said he hopes the report’s findings will lead to more meaningful action by lawmakers and regulators to address housing issues in the state.
In other communities, including in Michigan and Pennsylvania, foreclose issues have led to increases in foreclosed property values, Anderson added.
While foreclosers often claim to be working for homeowners, many of them do not and often are not licensed real estate professionals, he said.