SAVI Reports - Page 8

Introduction Housing is a central component of most people’s lives. It is one of the largest expenses for most families, contributing to—or detracting from—one’s financial health, and in some cases, mental health. Over time, housing can serve as a vehicle for building wealth; however, if not properly planned and budgeted, it can create challenges and diminish future opportunities for wealth-building. When housing for families is stable, it can promote positive educational outcomes among youth; when a family experiences serial moves, especially those that stem from foreclosure or other distresses, it can negatively impact educational outcomes among youth. Homes that contain lead paint may have that paint contained and pose no issue to the inhabitants; however, if left uncontained or disturbed, it can have a debilitating effect on inhabitants of the home, especially youth. In short, housing is more than just a place where we sleep or the primary land use of our neighborhood; it is a foundation around which we build our lives. Numerous studies discuss housing and how positive or negative living situations can impact social, economic, academic, and health-related outcomes. 3 These studies informed national policies that have led to requirements stating that housing be safe, decent, and affordable. This is the standard set within programs administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and it is the standard 3 that many affordable housing developers and advocates promote as the threshold for their efforts. When placed alongside safety and decency, affordability generally does not attract a great deal of attention. However, removed from that context, affordable housing often assumes connotations far beyond that limited definition, conjuring images of large-scale public housing projects such as Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis, Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor homes in Chicago, or even smaller projects like the Phoenix Apartments in Indianapolis. Part of this reaction is the blurring of definitions between affordable housing and subsidized housing. Beyond that, negative responses may further be based on an outmoded perception of subsidized housing. In this report, we will define both terms and explore the drivers and interrelatedness of each. We also will look at general policy challenges in creating adequate affordable housing and the reason why it is a relevant policy goal, especially for low-income families. In addition, we will provide a brief examination of policy options for local governments and civic leaders who have an interest in local and regional housing policy. All of this discussion will be placed See bibliography in 4 4