Mayors across the country unanimously expect demand for affordable housing to increase in the next 12 months.
But even as economic conditions improve and the homeless population declines in many locales, U.S. cities are still far from meeting the housing needs of their most vulnerable residents.
“The demand for affordable housing far exceeds the availability in the city of Miami, especially with elderly residents who live on fixed incomes or small retirement incomes,” says Mayor Tomás Regalado. “This is evident by the long waiting lists of low-income families applying for Sec. 8 housing and low-income units in tax credit projects.”
Regalado was among 15 mayors affordable housing finance canvassed for this story.
America’s mayors are a prime source of knowledge about what’s happening in the nation’s cities. They stand on the front lines of the affordable housing crisis and are among the first to see the long lines of people waiting for housing. In addition, their votes can lift or sink proposed housing projects, not to mention determine how limited public funds are spent.
And the importance of affordable housing is only growing: 77% of the mayors we surveyed say affordable housing is becoming more of a priority; the other 23% say it’s always been a top issue.
“Rents continue to rise in our region, so much so that it can be a deterrent to [local] companies trying to recruit and retain talent, which then has an economic impact on our city (declining revenues), which makes it difficult to tackle other issues, like public infrastructure,” says Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, Calif.
Six mayors say their cities’ funding for affordable housing will remain unchanged this year. Four expect a decrease, and three expect an increase.
Charlotte, N.C., is among those municipalities expecting more funding. That’s because voters there recently approved a capital investment plan that included $15 million for affordable housing.
“These locally approved dollars will be deposited into the city’s housing trust fund and used to provide gap financing to affordable housing developers to assist with new construction and rehab existing housing units to be used as affordable housing,” says Mayor Daniel G. Clodfelter.
We look at 10 of the mayors we surveyed and how they’re addressing today’s affordable housing crisis.