It is becoming increasingly challenging to buy or rent housing in major cities because of wage stagnation and the supply of affordable housing not meeting demand says Maxwell Drever. Middle-class workers are trying to keep up with their landlord payments by having two jobs at once, leading some workers to move far away from the city to afford somewhere to live near both work and school. It is causing severe traffic problems because people have long commutes every day, driving themselves and many other commuters into a frenzy. So what is the solution? An apt answer for this is the development of affordable workforce housing.
What does affordable workforce housing imply?
Workforce housing caters to the accommodation needs of the households that earn anywhere between 60 and 120% of the district’s annual income. These mainly include middle-income groups, who make decent money for living but not enough to afford luxuries. Firefighters, teachers, healthcare professionals, police officers, salespeople, and others belong to this category. They all form a critical part of the community by influencing its different aspects or functioning through their valuable services. However, the challenge is they struggle to fulfill their basic needs, such as a decent, livable home, despite being so crucial to the entire country’s economic ecosystem at large.
Maxwell Drever says that the reason for their sufferings is two-pronged – shortage of housing supply and lack of subsidies for their type of income groups. While low-wage earners have government-funded programs like the Housing Choice Vouchers program. And the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to support them, these people fail to meet eligibility criteria due to their relatively higher income. They cannot access low-income houses built for someone with annual earnings of 60% or less AMI. Due to their high income, and the market-rate properties prove too expensive for their pockets. Leaving them with fewer or no options at all.
So, precisely, one can comfortably assume that affordable workforce housing includes options for renters with up to 60% of the annual income and homebuyers with up to 120-130% of the average yearly income for the area.
Why is there a need to build affordable workforce housing?
As Maxwell Drever rightly puts it, having access to clean, livable units is the fundamental right of every individual. And if a specific section of the society remains deprived of this, it is not their problem alone. Instead, it should be a matter of concern at every level in the societal fabric. Where each group contributes to making what it truly represents. People in the middle-income range tend to be the most hard-working. Their services keep the communities running, the same area where it is unimaginable for them to stay put. They have to live far off and commute daily. It not only causes physical, mental, and financial stress to them. But also leads to other issues, such as increased traffic, low spending power, and more.
These and other associated problems can quickly settle down if there are significant efforts to build affordable homes for them. Since land and building costs often throw a challenge in this path, it can also be the right opportunity. To use dilapidated or rundown properties to improve city infrastructure.
Essentially, many reasons demand urgent attention to this for everyone’s good – the middle-income households, communities, and the nation.