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Expand Housing Affordability and Access
We support efforts to:
- Increase the supply of rental assistance to make housing more affordable to individuals and families with the lowest incomes.
- Expand access to private market and public housing rental units for people who have histories of homelessness and other significant barriers to obtaining housing.
Rental Assistance WorksHouseholds spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing are considered "housing-burdened," meaning the housing budget eats up money needed for other expenses. Today, about 8.5 million households are spending more than 50% of their incomes on rent. And this number is projected to grow. While there are multiple federal programs—Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance, Public Housing—rental assistance generally covers the difference between a percentage of a person’s income and the cost of the rent. This assistance makes housing affordable for almost 10 million people, including nearly 4 million children. But the benefits go beyond just having a safe and stable place to call home. By capping the amount a family must spend on housing, families can better afford basics like food, medicine, child care, and transportation. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Family Options Study, after 37 months families offered a long-term subsidy experienced significant reductions in subsequent homelessness; housing and school mobility; psychological distress; partner violence; and food insecurity. Providing a moderate amount of rental assistance keeps families housed, improves the health and education outcomes for children, and it saves taxpayers money. It costs taxpayers approximately $3,200/month for a family to stay in a one room shelter. By providing a rental voucher the same family can be permanently housed in their own apartment for about half of the cost. And when rent subsidies allow families to afford a home in low-poverty neighborhoods, children are significantly more likely to attend college, have lower rates of teenage pregnancy, and have higher incomes as adults.
Only 25% of Families Get the Housing Assistance They NeedIf rental assistance has such positive outcomes, why aren't more people using it? Unlike other benefits like food stamps or Medicaid, just because an individual qualifies for rental assistance, doesn’t mean they can actually get it. Nearly 20 million households across America qualify for rental assistance. Because there is not enough federal funding for this program, only one in four Americans who qualify for rental assistance actually receives it. And in many cities, waitlists for subsidized housing are impossibly long or closed altogether.
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