Low-income families already vulnerable due to strained finances have had to contend with lengthy waiting periods and closed waiting lists for affordable housing, a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reveals.
Importantly, affordable housing applicants are being shut out of the Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) program, according to the report, entitled Housing Spotlight: A Long Wait for a Home. Fifty-three percent of HCV waiting lists were found to be closed to new applicants, and 4 percent were found to be available only to certain types of applicants.
“Most of the poor families that are unable to obtain affordable homes spend more than half of their limited incomes on housing,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of NLIHC, in a statement on the report. “They face impossible choices between paying the rent or paying for food, medicine, transportation, or child care.”
According to the report, 65 percent of the HCV waiting lists closed to new applicants were closed for at least a year, with those on the waiting list having to wait a median of at least 1.5 years for assistance. One-quarter had to wait at least three years.
The amount of households on HCV waiting lists, on average, is 2,013, the report found.
“Congress can make more housing affordable to the lowest income people by significantly increasing investments in deeply targeted and highly effective tools like Housing Choice Vouchers, Public Housing and the national Housing Trust Fund,” Yentel said.
Bills on the docket, according to the NLIHC, include the Pathways out of Poverty Act (H.R. 2721), the Ending Homelessness Act of 2016 (H.R. 4888) and the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 3237).
“Home is the foundation for success in every aspect of our lives,” said Yentel. “Investing in homes is an investment in education, healthcare and economic mobility. As a nation, we understand the housing affordability crisis we face, we have the solutions, and we know how these solutions benefit families, communities and the economy. We lack only the political will to rebalance housing policy and target resources towards those with the greatest need. When we achieve that, we will end the long wait for a home for the nation’s lowest income families.”
To view Housing Spotlight: A Long Wait for a Home in full, click here.