Even though the number of COVID-19 cases are on the decline, there is still much uncertainty in the economy and housing has become a privilege to those who can afford it. (Housing should be a universal human right, but that was way back when.) But, there are those who strive to open the doors for communities who are struggling to find homes that are within their financial reach.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a downfall for everyone, literally everyone. There was a huge economic decline all over the world. (You know what I’m talking about if you are not from the Fortune 500 list.) Housing has been a rising issue since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, thankfully, there are solutions to every problem. (Yes, even this one.) This article will let you know where to find help and how to get it.
What Do You Mean, Affordable Housing?
According to Local Housing Solutions, affordable means “housing that a household can pay for, while still having money left over for other necessities like food, transportation, and health care. That means that what’s considered “affordable” depends on a household’s income.” The federal government defines housing as affordable under a certain condition. When the housing unit costs no more than thirty percent of a household’s income; that is when it counts as affordable.
There are different angles to affordable housing. Since it is a subjective term, most people do not believe that they live in affordable housing. To keep it simple, if you can pay for your housing unit and still buy stuff, then you are living in affordable housing. (Not the best reality check, but hey, you might be the lucky ones.)
What You May Find Useful To Get An Affordable Home:
There are different online sources that will help you find affordable housing. Since the pandemic, that has been one of the top priorities. (It should have always been a top priority, but baby steps.) Now, you can find all types of housing programs that the federal government designed. You will need a pen and paper for this. (Or you can use your phone, if you want to be fancy about it.)
Below, there are different online resources and we are starting with the National Low Income Housing Coalition. (Or, the NLIHC, as the kids call it.)
When in Trouble, Visit the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)
There is an organization that commits to help those in need of having better access to affordable housing. That would be the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is perhaps one of the best support networks and references you can use in your struggle finding a home. As an organization, it works to invest resources in assisting those who are on a quest to find their dream home.
As a reference, it is incredibly valuable and is filled with comprehensive explanations of everything assistance-related. You will find different forms of programs, opportunities, and policies that have to do with affordable housing. You even have the option of signing up to receive their regular emails. It will provide you with the latest updates and information that could be used for your benefit.
In addition, the NLIHC is highly connected with other similar bodies across the nation. Other organizations are seeking to advocate for affordable housing and providing support to all those who need it. (National Low Income Housing Coalition )
National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) Initiatives
The NLIHC takes part in a number of important initiatives to help those struggling with low income. This includes:
- NLIHC helped create the National Housing Trust Fund, which is a housing initiative that has been in existence since 1974. It was made to assist in building, reviving, and managing affordable rental properties for low-income communities.
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is the leader of the Housing Trust Fund and Policy Group. The NLIHC promotes support for low-come housing in Congress through encouraging tax reform and infrastructure investments.
- The NLIHC also plays a major role in public policy towards persuading officials. Because officials need a push, the NLIHC encourages them to preserve and increase funds for federal affordable housing programs. This support is not just financial. (They do not just show you the money; they help push policies too.)
- Through its work, the NLIHC also seeks to promote social justice and racial equality for people of color. Since studies have shown that these communities have suffered the most from evictions and homelessness, the NLIHC wants to change that. (Nelson Mandela would be so proud of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.)
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NLIHC also initiated a number of rental assistance programs and there is a complete document about it. You can find it on their official website. (Start scrolling through the programs, instead of Facebook.)
- There are major donors of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). This includes the Ford Foundation, the Melville Charitable Trust, the Oak Foundation, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, Funders for Housing and Opportunity, and the JPB Foundation.
In case you do not find what you need, then there are other online resources that could help you out. You can use the Rental Housing Database and Renters’ in Foreclosure Toolkit. It’s important to point out that the Renters’ in Foreclosure Toolkit is particularly useful. The Toolkit targets those who are being threatened with foreclosure or eviction. It is important for everyone to know their rights as tenants.
On the Federal Reserve website, you will also find more information about Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA). That way you are more well-informed about your rights and can appropriately respond to any renter who threatens you with foreclosure.
Low Cost Housing vs. Affordable Housing
As you do your research, you might type in “low cost housing” rather than “affordable housing.” Although both terms sound similar, there is a key difference to it. (You should write this down.)
Affordable housing is housing units that you can afford and well within your budget. Affordable housing can differentiate between one person and another. What you can afford, other people can’t. (Vice versa applies, sorry.)
As for low cost housing, these are housing units that are cheaper than your average amount for housing. It can also be less than what you can afford. To determine which one is best for you, you need to look at your budget. Once you know how much you can spend on housing, then you will be to tell whether you need low-cost housing and affordable housing. The main factor here is what you can afford. (Silva)
What is Happening Now?
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Marcia Fudge, there needs to be a change in the housing assistance system. According to released data from National Low Income Housing Coalition, “Those who earn minimum wage must work 74 hours each week to afford a two-bedroom home at the state’s fair market rent of $832”.
Now, the Housing and Urban Development are requesting help from communities. Trying to solve the problem as efficiently as possible, the HUD is turning to communities for help. “We know that we need about 11 million houses in this country,” Fudge stated in Columbus. “We cannot build our way out of this problem. The federal government can’t provide enough resources.”
Discussing the possible reasons behind why there are people on the streets, there were a few indicators. Among them were “outdated public housing, a shortage of multi-family housing options and student loan debt that saddles renters and buyers.” (Bemiller)
Essentials of Tenant Self-Defense
The law is a tool that you can use to protect yourself from landlords who have treated you unjustly. Sometimes knowing some of your basic rights can help prevent an illegal foreclosure. You can also avoid any injustice towards you, and not end up on the streets. Here are some basic principles that you should about, as a future tenant:
- If the tenant is the trying to evict you, then it must be for one or more of the following reasons: (1) you as a tenant have been involved in illegal activities on the property (2) you damaged the property, (3) you violated the terms of the rent agreement (e.g. missing rent payments)
- It’s important to note landlords do not have the right to refuse to rent a property to a tenant. They also do not have the right to treat any tenant differently because of race, religion, gender, etc. (Pototsky)
Landlord-Tenant Act (The Law is on Your Side.)
The Landlord-Tenant Law is different from one state to another. The laws define the relationship and rules of both parties in a residential rental agreement. Each of the fifty states has their own landlord-tenant laws, but most of them have statutes. The main difference is the rental listing requirement, tenant screening, or rental application requirements. The statutes of the Landlord-Tenant Act protect both the tenant and the landlord, ensuring a fair relationship between both parties. (American Apartment Owners Association)
As part of the Landlord-Tenant Act, the following is required, as well:
- When the property is possessed on certain land, the landlord must agree to give the tenant access to the unit that is allocated for him/her. If the landlord does not cooperate, then that is a violation.
- The landlord is not permitted entry into the rented unit without prior notice and only be given access, if it is an emergency.
- The rented property needs to comply with all housing laws and safety standards, as required by law.
In conclusion, affordable housing means that you consume about 30% of your income and still be able to purchase necessities. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected every single one of us, especially when it comes to housing. The federal government managed to create housing assistance programs. Housing assistance programs are created to help you find affordable housing.
There are different online resources that will help you find the right housing assistance program. The first place to look is the National Low Income Housing Coalition; that is the best website to find what you are looking for. Other resources include: the Rental Housing Database and Renters’ in Foreclosure Toolkit.
There is a term known as “low-cost housing” that is different from “affordable housing.” Affordable housing is a housing unit that you can afford, specifically. Low-cost housing is a housing unit that is average or less than what you can afford. It does not seem like a huge difference, but there is a difference nonetheless. Make sure that you search for “affordable housing” while looking for housing assistance programs.
There is a very important factor that you should take into account. That would be, your rights as a tenant. You can find out all of your rights and responsibilities under the Landlord-Tenant Act. The Landlord Tenant Act is a legal document that informs you of your rights and ensures a fair relationship between you and your landlord.
The Landlord-Tenant Act specifies that your landlord cannot barge in whenever they please. In the case of an emergency or with prior notice, the landlord is allowed into your apartment. Also, the landlord must abide by the Housing Quality Standards. This will ensure that you stay on good terms with your landlord. (As opposed to fighting with your landlord over a broken window that they swore was never broken.)
American Apartment Owners Association. Landlord Tenant Laws. n.d. 29 06 2021 <https://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/landlord-tenant-laws/>.
Bemiller, Haley. HUD Secretary Fudge calls for collaboration on affordable housing, says U.S. can’t ‘build our way out’ of crisis. 26 06 2021. 29 06 2021 <https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/2021/06/26/hud-secretary-marcia-fudge-visits-columbus-discuss-housing/7779470002/>.
National Low Income Housing Coalition . About Us. n.d. 29 06 2021 <http://nlihc.org/about>.
Pototsky, Cole. Landlord and Tenant Causes of Action: “When Things go Wrong”. 13 11 2020. 29 06 2021 <https://www.peoples-law.org/landlord-and-tenant-causes-action-when-things-go-wrong>.
Silva, Bibiana da. Difference Between Low Cost Housing & Affordable Housing. 27 07 2017. 29 06 2021 <https://pocketsense.com/difference-cost-housing-affordable-housing-8352736.html>.