NHPF-Authored Articles & Industry Reports

Multi-Housing News, December 22, 2021 7 Strategies for More Resilient Affordable Housing by Eric W. Price, Executive Vice President & CFO, NHPF

Many affordable home renters are just one natural disaster, financial crisis or health emergency away from housing insecurity. The structural instability and financially precarious state of rental affordable housing becomes more acute with each threat.

• 59 percent contend that neither the public nor the private sector currently does enough to support affordable rental housing. • 54 percent feel that the two sectors should bear equal responsibility in supporting such housing, while • 43 percent believe the responsibility to support affordable rental housing should lie primarily with the public sector • 80 percent want various public sector actors—each level of government, as well as mayors and city councilmembers—to take a more active role in furthering the development and preservation of affordable housing. • 83 percent believe the philanthropic sector also needs to take a more active role in promoting residential affordability than it has in the past. Therefore, what steps ought to be implemented by those inside and beyond the affordable housing industry to ensure more resilient housing? We looked to experts participating in the 2021 NHPF Symposium “A Decade of Rental Housing Vulnerability: Lessons Learned from Financial Crisis to Coronavirus,” including mayors of major municipalities, academics and policy influencers, social activists, and state housing agency funders, for recommendations, which we have condensed to seven workable strategies. 1. Capitalize on a Readiness to Address Racial Inequity The current awareness of and attention to years of systemic racism have created a sense of urgency, and now there is a strong willingness to redress historic wrongs that have led to persistent racial and ethnic disparities in accessing and remaining in quality housing. Stakeholder recommendations are: • Pursue policies and programs at all levels of government to reverse decades of redlining, home appraisal discrimination, and unequal access to quality housing • Invest in long under-served populations and places. Among other things, there is a consensus recommendation for strong enforcement and potential expansion of anti-discrimination legislation such as the Fair Housing Act and the Community Reinvestment Act. 2. Redouble Efforts to Assist All Underserved Populations Those queried contend that the policies and events of the past decade plus have negatively affected most renter populations, although some groups of renters have fared better than others. Stakeholder recommendations are:

Recently, The NHP Foundation undertook a study on affordable housing vulnerability.

Eric W. Price

Along with Enterprise Community Partners, the organization queried more than 100 affordable housing stakeholders including investors, housing agency leaders, developers, elected officials and others. Survey participants rated housing policy and other interventions from the past decade, divided into three distinct periods: the Great Recession & Aftermath (2008–2011); Rebuilding in a Divided U.S. (2012–2019); and Pandemic & Social Upheaval (2020–2021). Briefly, results show that despite gains made by many policy enactments directed towards increased housing production and rental assistance, most underserved populations who comprise the renter universe remain just that—underserved. And simply building more new housing is not the answer either. Additional strategies must be implemented, and services provided to ensure residents can attain and maintain affordable housing. Here are some of the outstanding findings: Nearly 88 percent perceive that people of color struggle to access and keep affordable housing. • Nearly 89 percent cited long-term racial discrimination in real estate, lending practices, and federal housing policy. • 81 percent said they have the ability to address these racial and ethnic disparities in their current position. At the same time, 86 percent believe the public sector should have substantial responsibility for furthering greater equity of opportunity. • While respondents feel that veterans and older adults have had their needs at least adequately met by policies and programs enacted since 2008, they also said that immigrants and formerly incarcerated individuals have been especially poorly served, along with people living in rural areas. • Programs for the formerly homeless and people with disabilities were ranked as falling just shy of the adequate threshold but incrementally above the results for people with low incomes in general.

• Increase funding for voucher-based programs benefiting residents with low incomes, with larger amounts made available for people further down the income ladder.

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