What's up with affordability?

Hank Hayes • Mar 25, 2019 at 8:30 AM

NASHVILLE – “Housing affordability is a growing crisis that is attracting bipartisan attention.”

National Housing Conference President and CEO David Dworkin made that observation at the recent Tennessee Housing Conference where a number of housing-related issues were examined.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) latest research shows there is a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available to the lowest-income renter households nationwide and there are fewer than four affordable and available rental homes for every 10 of the poorest families.

No state has an adequate supply of homes affordable and available to its lowest-income renters and as a result, 11 million renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, paying more than half of their limited incomes on rent, according to NLIHC.

Dworkin noted there’s a gap between workers’ incomes and home prices going beyond wages.

“We have the best job market for millennials since the Korean War,” he told conference attendees. “And yet 1 in 6 millennials in that age range live with mom and dad.”

Homeless populations, Dworkin also pointed out, are growing for the first time in seven years.

“This is a (housing) supply crisis, not demand driven as in the run up to the Great Recession,” he observed.

Dworkin suggested America is now more focused on its prison population.

“Those folks are going to need jobs,” he insisted. “They’re going to need training. They’re going to need a lot of support as they come out of the system they have been incarcerated in. Many of them have skills. They’re just the wrong skills … you don’t need a college education to be a carpenter.”

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), which hosted the conference, touted its $1.4 billion economic impact on the state with more than 106,000 households helped through state and federal grant programs THDA administers.

“Among the people we serve, there remains a genuine hunger for home ownership,” THDA Executive Director Ralph Perrey stressed.