Habitat Springfield Supports Springfield City Plan to Provide Affordable Housing
It is apparent that families all across the U.S. are paying too high a price to cover the cost of home. Today nearly 18 million households across the United States spend at least half of their income on a place to live, often forgoing basic necessities such as food and health care to make ends meet. In Missouri, one out of 8 households spends over 50% of their income on housing. That means that 1 in 6 families are denied the personal and economic stability that safe, decent and affordable housing provides.
We at Habitat for Humanity of Springfield were pleased to hear that, this week, the City of Springfield announced they are asking for public feedback on a funding plan with the goal of using nearly one million dollars worth of government grants aimed at providing Springfield with more affordable housing. According to Ozarks First, these grants would allow the city to give out loans that incent developers to revamp or rebuild worn down houses on the north side of Springfield.
The plan came about after the city an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice, a requirement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to participate in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) Grant programs, according to a press release from the city.
In the Springfield, Missouri area according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “GAP Analysis;” over 10,000 renter households are considered Extremely Low Income – making less than or equal to 30% of the HAMFI (Housing Urban Development Area Median Family Income). There is also a deficit of over 8,000 available affordable units
Current federal programs such as HUD’s Home Investment Partnerships Program, the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), the Housing Choice Voucher program and other
initiatives, have not kept pace with the local needs. But rather than implementing policies that will increase construction costs, many local and state organizations are engaging in broad advocacy
initiatives to persuade state and local governments to raise significant new housing resources of their own.
According to Henry Cisneros, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “On the rental side, there isn’t a single metropolitan area in America today where a family earning minimum wage can afford the fair market rent on a two-bedroom apartment. While we need federal funding, which we clearly do, the truth of the matter is that leadership has to
come at the local level,” Cisneros says.
Strategies being considered for increasing the supply and preservation of affordable homes include:
- Creating new dedicated funding for local and state housing trust funds;
- Increasing general fund appropriations for housing;
- Adopting multiyear, general-obligation housing bonds;
- Establishing and expanding state housing tax credits;
- Creating new resources to support homes for those with the lowest incomes;
- Expanding the availability of housing vouchers to make more existing homes affordable;
- Providing permit waivers in exchange for the construction of mixed-income developments.
Note that none of these initiatives encourages or endorses actions that would increase the cost of construction and thus effectively contribute to reducing the already dwindling interest or desire to build homes considered affordable.
As Springfield constituents, and supporters of Habitat for Humanity, we commend the City’s pro-active effort to pursue solutions to the growing affordable housing crisis and ask all Springfield neighbors to provide feedback on the proposed funding plan.
You can find the full Springfield Plan here.