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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 11:05 EDT

Family Promise Promotes Freedom from Oppressive Housing Costs

July 4, 2013

Harvard Report Reveals Housing Becoming Unaffordable for More Americans

Summit, NJ (PRWEB) July 04, 2013

This July 4th brings good news in housing. Home prices are rising, sales are brisk, new housing starts are up and those “under water” or in foreclosure are declining in number. Lost in the plethora of good news, however, is the fact that a record 20.5 million U.S. households are now paying more than one half of their income for housing alone. These “severely cost burdened” households have increased by 6.7 million over the last decade. Paying 50% of income for housing is unsustainable, leaving little room for other necessities, and a reason we see no decline in the number of homeless families Family Promise serves.

Harvard's State of Nation's Housing Report 2013 explains “that households paying more than 50% of income for housing spend a third less on food, half as much on pensions and retirement, half as much on clothes and three quarters less on healthcare as families paying affordable shares of their incomes for housing.” As paying too much for housing is unsustainable for families, the relentless rise in the number of severely cost burdened families is unsustainable for our nation.

In the hours before breaking for their 4th of July holiday, the House and Senate Appropriations committees passed their bills for funding HUD’s housing initiatives in 2014. The House proposes cuts in the HOME program and in Community Development Block Grant programs so steep, that these programs would be funded at levels not seen since the 1970’s when we had a surplus of affordable housing units.

Neither the House nor the Senate are willing to fund housing initiatives to the extent of the need, federal housing assistance is available to only about 25% of those who are eligible.

But increased HUD funding is not the only solution.

A healthy increase in the minimum wage would help. The federal minimum wage has not been increased since 2009, but housing costs continue to rise, especially for renters. Those paid minimum wage have been losing ground for decades. The minimum wage paid in 1968 would be worth more than $10.50 now when adjusted for inflation.

The United for Homes Campaign recommends modifications to the largest federal housing subsidy program—the mortgage interest deduction (MID). The proposed reform would lower the cap on the deduction to $500,000 and change the deduction to a tax credit, allowing 16 million more households to benefit. The money “saved” would be used to fund the National Housing Trust Fund which is designed to build and rehabilitate housing units for those who cannot find affordable housing today.

As we celebrate freedom and independence let’s remember those still bound by oppressive housing costs. And after we put down our burgers and dogs, let us work to make safe and clean and affordable housing available to all.

Frank McCann

Director of Education and Public Policy

Family Promise, Inc.

About Family Promise

Family Promise is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence. We are based in Summit, New Jersey, where we began our work in 1988, founded on the belief that Americans are compassionate people who want to make a difference. Today we have 182 Affiliates in 41 states, with more in development. Our programs engage more than 160,000 volunteers and provide assistance to more than 50,000 family members annually.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/7/prweb10898451.htm


Source: prweb