Every Home is Affordable
Every home is affordable. A house that is not affordable will not be built. The word, ‘affordable,’ tends to encourage misconception of public policy in the housing market. In line with the universal declaration of human rights, the goal of the Housing Act of 1949 in the United States has been for every American family to have a decent home. Every family or household needs only a decent home to live and work in any community. This makes home ownership the great equalizer. Local housing markets in communities across the United States are not intended to be commercial markets just for buying and selling of shelters or rental homes to live. A local housing market is part of real estate market in the community for families to invest in landed properties. There are various forms of public and private mortgage loans to leverage every family to invest in a home rather than public rental homes. Public housing in the United States is a legacy of the era of slum clearance. Renting a home to live is not the same as investing in a home one lives in. Rental homes are for various forms of leasehold arrangements in real estate markets; depending on housing needs. Public policy in local housing markets is to encourage every family to invest in, at least, a home to live and work in various communities. Encouraging home ownership curtails exploitation in decisions regarding its use; as well as it could prevent abusive use or poor maintenance.
However, public policy administration has created ambivalent dichotomous local housing markets in communities across the United States. Local housing markets now comprise of market rate and subsidized homes. Traditionally public housing was to provide decent transitional shelters for very poor people when the need for slum clearance was prevalent. It became misconstrued as affordable decent rental homes for low-income families by public policy makers and administrators. This has resulted in concentration of poverty, segregated projects, and neighborhood declines. Even worse, renting homes became confused with investing in homes. The misconception persisted even after housing needs were taken from employers’ purview by the Housing Act of 1949. While some contemporary programs use subsidies to enable low-income households buy below market prices, it is perceived as unsustainable taking away of affordable housing for low-income households (Byrne & Diamond, 2006). However, it is not taking away but encouraging low-income households to also invest in housing as real estate. The perception is a reflection of the common misconception about real estate markets that led to confusing renting homes with investing in homes. To complement public policy and avoid the perception of unsustainable taking away of affordable housing for low-income households, nonprofit community real estate management services are needed in local housing markets. It is the assistance needed by low-income households, investors, and many small-scale including absentee landlords. This is the focus of Community Housing Market Support Network Inc (CHMSN Inc.) in Louisville Kentucky.
Byrne, J. P. & Diamond, M. (2006). Affordable housing, land tenure, and urban policy: The matrix revealed. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 34, 2, pp. 527- 612.