With so many worthy causes, one may wonder whether building affordable homes is the most effective way to support a community. A recent article in the Huffington Post reminds us that it is. Titled “Least Affordable Places to Live,” the article describes ziprealty.com’s ranking of 30 metropolitan areas in terms of affordability, which it defines as the ratio between median home sales prices and median incomes. The D.C. area topped the list with median housing prices about 16.78 times the median income. Findings such as these remind us that our work continues to be a vital component of the District’s transformation.
Much of the current increase in home prices can be attributed to the influx of highly educated, unmarried, young people. Residents whose wages have not kept up with escalating prices have lost the opportunity to live in the most desirable areas, often times having to move out of the District itself. DC Habitat’s mission to provide decent, safe, and affordable housing for hard working people that demonstrate the ability and willingness to partner helps to ensure that the District remains a place for all.
Many of the families we serve employ “creative” solutions in the face of affordability issues. They may share a room with multiple family members or pay more than 50% of their income on housing. “Solutions” such as these have adverse effects on a family’s well being, resulting in emotional stress, under nutrition, poor access to health care and behavioral issues among schoolchildren. The end result is a system that is more expensive to support than the provision of affordable housing.
A recent survey of nearly 60 Habitat homeowners found that over 89% of the children in those homes had graduated from high school and about half had enrolled in college. Our homeowners responded that they feel healthy, with high percentages being in good or very good physical and mental health. They describe the Habitat process as life changing and hope-inspiring. All District residents deserve access to affordable housing. Through volunteer labor and donations, we are helping to make that possible.
The evidence suggests that affordable housing is a growing problem in the District and we are working towards the solution. Affordable housing is the foundation of community, and when everyone has a chance to own their home, the chances of a city’s long term health and livelihood increase. Homeowners tend to live in their homes longer, they are more likely to be politically active, and their children are more likely to do better in school. Our homeowner surveys demonstrate that Habitat homes really do change lives.