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Vision, Not Just Critique

In the Spring 2017 issue of Shelterforce, we talk about something that comes up daily for many people working in the community development field—what does housing affordability mean? Crafting practical policies to back up our vision requires that we be thoughtful about all of the pieces.

How Should We Measure Housing Affordability?

The simplicity of the 30 percent standard is also its downfall. We don’t expect people of differing incomes or family sizes to pay the same percentage of their income in taxes—why would the same percentage work for housing costs?

After Paying for Housing, How Much is Enough for Basic Necessities?

We need some standards to explain what “enough” means. Here's a breakdown of the Family Budget Calculator, the Self-Sufficiency Standard, and the Housing Poverty Measure.

Affordability: The 30 Percent Standard’s Blinders

Using a simple cost-to-income ratio to measure affordability doesn’t give us a good picture of who is really burdened by housing cost. We need a different approach.

In Defense of the 30 Percent of Income to Housing Affordability...

At an individual level, the 30 percent standard and the residual-income standard can produce very different results. But as a regional measure of affordability problems, they’re not so far apart.

Housing Need Is Even More Skewed by Income Than We Thought

Measuring only for cost burden overstates the housing needs of higher-income people and understates the extreme need at the lower end.

The 30 Percent Rent-to-Income Ratio Doesn’t Add Up in NYC

The 30 percent standard only ‘works’ in calculations where it is irrelevant. The residual-income approach, on the other hand, can turn what all too often becomes an abstract and theoretical discussion into a series of researchable questions.

The Secret History of Area Median Income

AMI is typically used to determine whether a person is eligible for housing assistance. But in a large and wealthy area like the New York City metro, the resulting definitions of “low income” are often skewed, leaving out those who really need the help.

When Deep-Income Targeting Doesn’t Hit the Mark

Deep-income targeting, where the focus is on housing those with the lowest incomes, can mean dramatically different things to affordable rental housing developers in different states, and even in different market areas within the same state.

How to Build a Case for Community Development and Affordable Housing

In the new administration, housing programs will feel the pressure of budgetary cuts and tax reform. Advocates should be careful not to put down other programs in the process of defending their own, or everyone will lose.

Will Limited-Equity Cooperatives Make a Comeback?

Federal programs and cultural attitudes that helped launch a majority of the large limited-equity co-ops across the nation are long gone, but at a smaller scale, this model of resident-controlled, long-term affordable housing may be experiencing new interest.

Regulation and Housing Supply: Where the Left & Right Agree (Sort...

We gathered some people who have done a lot of thinking and studying on regulation to discuss what it might look like to actually remove obstacles that get in the way of developing less expensive housing options responsibly. What's possible? What are the trade-offs?

Thoughts on the Unnatural Occurrence of Cheap Housing

There are two major issues with NOAH, better known as Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing. One is semantic, and one is practical.

Creating a Sanctuary For Youth in Camden, New Jersey

At Hopeworks ‘N Camden, youth have often experienced a lifetime of traumatic events and toxic stress. Learning from the health world’s understanding of trauma can create better outcomes for service organizations—and better workplaces too.

A Look at a Medical, Legal Aid Partnership in New Orleans

A health center has partnered with a legal services agency to better help patients by addressing the social determinants of health. This “medical-legal partnership” is part of a growing trend that’s taking place across the nation.

How the Bay Area Got $2 Billion for Affordable Homes

San Francisco Bay Area voters approved bold new investments in 2016 after housing advocates--part of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California--ignited a successful electoral strategy for the general election. Here's how it worked.

Q: What Do All These Housing Affordability Terms Mean?

While we use terms like "affordable housing," "moderate income," "housing poverty," and "area median income" often, we thought it'd be helpful to explain what all these housing affordability terms mean. Make sure you're using these 19 terms correctly.