As a millennial, I can’t afford much. I have horrible spending habits. I’m spending all my checks on overpriced education, rent, avocado toast, booze, you name it. I can’t even afford the Quilted Northern Ultra Plush toilet paper, let alone a down payment on a home that will take me 25 years to save for.
I’m not the only one who struggles to attain the American Dream. There are too many people and not enough housing units. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association, we need about $4.6 million more units by 2030 to satisfy the demand for housing. The country is preparing to get over 320,000 more units by the end of this year. However, the majority comes with a hefty price tag, which means these units will not be for the lower working class.
In addition, many families in the U.S. spend way too much of their income just to have shelter. In fact, many pay more than 30% of their income solely on rent. City slickers typically prefer to rent than own, and the foreclosure crisis wasn’t too long ago. Thus, the demand for affordable units continues to rise, so this housing shortage is a huge concern. The affordable housing crisis is real and it’s been here. Cities are practically crying for help but are not receiving a whole lot of assistance.
Crisis in South Florida
Take South Florida for example. Since 2015, about a third of South Florida’s renting population spends more than half their income just on rent! Families do not get paid enough here, so they have been extremely stressed out about the cost of living and other necessities. In fact, some are left homeless. In Palm Beach County, the median gross rent is $1,900. Nearly 60% of renters in this area are cost-burdened. Sadly, rent keeps climbing despite the average wage in this region, and so is poverty. South Florida has actually one of the worst housing situations. Many households in South Florida receive some kind of housing assistance, but it’s still not enough. Not only that, but the funding is not enough.
Baby Steps to Solving This Crisis
There are several cities that are exploring different ways to solve this crisis. From changing building codes to pushing for more funding, some cities are taking a step forward to make housing affordable. For instance, Minneapolis opened an affordable apartment complex in 2015 called The Rose. The $36 million project takes on a green concept; it includes a community garden, solar panel-ready roofs, and other green amenities. The developers focused on sustainability and were able to create a low-cost and energy-efficient building. This project serves as a staple, as well as encouragement, to create more sustainable and inexpensive housing for low and mixed-income families.
Philly also took the time and money to invest in a project geared for low-income families. Paseo Verde, a 120-unit affordable development by Temple University, is also a sustainable yet feasible development. The building offers office space, parking, health clinic and retail. In addition, it’s right near the local train station. Paseo Verde also focuses on the community and serves to connect people from different backgrounds, whether they are Philadelphia natives, students, or professionals.
Denver, Colorado, is another city making headlines for its efforts to solve the affordable housing crisis. Last year, the city was able to obtain a $10 million loan to focus on affordable housing projects. A transit expansion program called FasTracks aims to create affordable housing units close to the city’s public transportation stops.
Whether it’s renting or owning, homes are expensive. The working class is struggling, and poverty is real. Thankfully, there are some real estate developers and cities that are working together to solve the problems. Although these projects will not save the nation’s affordable housing crisis, it is still a step and will hopefully encourage other regions and developers to make similar, if not better, efforts.