Why do we need affordable housing?

Washington D.C. is now one of the top five most expensive places to live in the United States, forcing financially-strapped families to turn to affordable housing for refuge. According to the D.C. Housing Authority, there are more than 8,300 units in 52 public housing developments in the district.

The demand for subsidized units is increasing due to the inventory of moderately-priced homes remaining low. Since high-cost home-buying opportunities in D.C. are limited, housing projects have become a burning topic and its effect in the city. While there are thoughts that low-cost housing do more harm than good, sustaining existing communities and developing more affordable housing come with economic benefits and can be an asset in the city.

A residential solution for low-income, some middle class, and Millennials

First, let’s define what affordable housing is by today’s standards. It’s working with a group of people who has some kind of subsidized need and considered those who spend less than 30 percent of their income to live in this type of housing. And this group is no longer comprised of low-income individuals but increasingly includes struggling middle-class families and Millennials.

Fast-rising home costs in the district and little pay growth for many households have made affordable and stable housing a critical element to support families and communities. Fortunately, affordable homes can have a trickle-down effect that benefits the entire city’s economy allowing families to spend and pump money back into it. Another example, with lower rents, employees who work in D.C. in low to moderate-paying jobs can afford to live near their employment and not commute farther from home, causing companies to not lose workers and close its business. In addition, new developments of subsidized housing put money back into the financial system due to the transfer of taxes that goes back into the city.

Preserves the fabric of the city Every resident in D.C. wants the same thing, whether it’s in northwest or southeast, and that’s a house they can afford. D.C. is a special town, not because it has lots of people that can afford an $800,000, 1,000 square foot condominium but it’s diverse in economic and social groups. Without this, the city would exclude the working class and professionals like policemen, teachers, and government workers. Most of these professionals will probably not qualify for a $600,000 to $700,000 mortgage.

A vital method to keeping diversity in the city is meeting the need of affordable housing by developing varied neighborhoods and helping to preserve mixed-incomes across the region.

New building designs will complement the city’s architecture

It’s beneficial to the city if affordable housing doesn’t look like affordable housing. Fortunately, the idea of having a low-income housing project appear like a market rate building has caught on and the old bunker-style, eye-sore complexes are becoming more uncommon. Unlike over 30 years ago, when most affordable homes were built by the U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development, today, most low-cost housing is built by private Developers working alongside Architects with visions to create attractive buildings that blend in, enhance the community, real estate around them, and lure businesses to the community.

New architectural designs will eliminate the stigma associated with affordable housing and of suspecting someone’s income level just because they live in a certain house style. Upright designs are not just fair for residents who need housing assistance. It can be advantageous for the entire district.

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