Report: Meeting the Challenges of the Growing Affordable Housing Crisis

By: Office of US Senator Maria Cantwell

Published: March 2017

America is facing an affordable housing crisis that grows deeper every day. According to a new report issued last week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, we face a nationwide shortage of 7.4 million affordable rental homes available to the most vulnerable, extremely low-income citizens.

From 2000 to 2013, the total number of Americans facing extreme housing unaffordability has exploded, from 7 million to 11.2 million, a nearly 60 percent increase. In Washington state, nearly 400,000 households are paying half their monthly income in rent. There is no state in the U.S. where a minimum-wage worker working full time can afford a one-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent. This crisis demands action by our leaders.

If we do not act, the number of Americans driven into poverty by crushing rents will continue to rise. Research from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and Enterprise Community Partners shows that with no action by 2025, nearly 15 million Americans could be spending half of their monthly income on rent – an increase of 25 percent.

Increasing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit by 50 percent, as envisioned by the bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell and Orrin Hatch, would provide for the creation of at least 400,000 additional affordable units over the next decade – the first step in ending this crisis across our country.

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