Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Data on Affordable Rental Housing is Mixed at Best

Photo of Eileen Fitzgerald
By Eileen Fitzgerald
Chief Executive Officer
NeighborWorks America
NeighborWorks America underscored its commitment to affordable rental housing this week at the launch of the 2013 State of the Nation’s Housing report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University.

I had the privilege of joining Eric Belsky, the director of the JCHS, and a panel of experts to talk about housing. While homeownership continues to draw the most attention, what is going on in the rental housing market demands attention.

The information on affordable rental housing in America is mixed at best, and for millions of households the data are troubling. According to the report, the number of renter households severely burdened by their monthly rent payment increased by 2.6 million between 2007 and 2011. Between 2001 and 2011, the number grew by 6.7 million. According to the State of the Nation's Housing report, which cites consumer price index data, rent increases have been far outpacing overall inflation.

As a national community development corporation that helps a network of nonprofit affordable rental property owners, we think these numbers are further proof of how important it is to continue supporting the development of affordable rental housing.

The NeighborWorks network owns or manages more than 102,000 rental homes. These locally owned and managed nonprofit corporations are committed to building more affordable rental homes, and to buying more properties that may become market rate after affordability provisions related to their development expire. More than ten percent of affordable rental homes are taken out of the affordable ranks each year.

NeighborWorks America will continue to be there for the NeighborWorks network by providing an average of $15 million in flexible capital to these owners of affordable rental housing. But our funding for affordable rental homes needs to be leveraged with long-term private sector funding. Affordable rental housing can’t be created and sustained by just one source of capital.

I urge everyone who cares about affordable rental housing to download the latest State of the Nation’s Housing report and to watch the recorded webcast (see above) of our discussion of the report on Wednesday, June 26.