Affordable Housing Uplifts Communities

Maya Colchamiro

Every human deserves the right to have a safe and comfortable home. An individual’s economic prosperity should not determine if they are able to live in a home. Homelessness has been a growing issue within the United States, and  specifically Washington. explains, “In December of 2022, HUD calculated that 582,462 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States and its territories.” This extremely large number continues to grow and worsen, illustrating the multitude of what can only be labeled as a homelessness crisis. While many understand and recognize the housing crisis, there are many debates on the solution to homelessness. 

Creating affordable housing, which is housing deemed affordable to those with a household income at or below the median as rated by the national or local government, is a primary solution for homelessness. However, some oppose it for varying reasons. Shelter Force states, “The most commonly reported reason for opposition is fear of increased crime and decreased sense of safety—heard by over three out of every five developers experiencing opposition.” Similarly, many governments are faced with “community concern about tax burdens.” Local officials/city planners can help convince communities about the benefits of affordable housing by explaining that affordable housing will not factor into their taxes and will economically benefit even those who do not need affordable housing. 

Affordable housing has benefits for the entire community. Forbes explains, “Those living in affordable housing are able to spend substantially more on nutritious food and on healthcare,” benefiting both individual households, and communities. Similarly, it adds, “Building, preserving and sustaining affordable housing requires a cadre of construction tradespeople, property managers, leasing agents, security staff and others — 161 local jobs on average in the first year alone.” These local jobs can help enhance the community as a whole. Increasing the number of jobs allows the people to buy more items, therefore helping local businesses and their employees. Additionally, without struggling with expensive housing, families can purchase more, further boosting the economy.

Finally, being homeless can greatly increase rates of substance abuse. The National Coalition for Homelessness explains, “Although obtaining an accurate, recent count is difficult, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2003) estimates, 38 percent of homeless people were dependent on alcohol and 26 percent abused other drugs….Substance abuse is much more common among homeless people than in the general population. According to the 2006 National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15 percent of people above the age of 12 reported using drugs within the past year and only 8 percent reported using drugs within the past month.” By providing an affordable home, homeless people can bounce back and regain their lives.

In conclusion, affordable housing is a solution for the homelessness issue across America. The right to a home should not be based upon wealth or monetary net worth, and everyone deserves a safe shelter.