High Housing Costs a Growing Challenge for Cities
A precipitous increase in housing prices in many cities over the last five years has made it increasingly difficult for municipalities to meet the housing needs of low-income working families, and city housing directors are complaining that federal and state governments aren’t doing enough to support their efforts.
In the National League of Cities' State of America’s Cities Survey on Municipal Housing, which was released in October, nearly seven in 10 of the local housing directors who were polled said that lower-income working families have the most critical housing needs in their community.
About 75% of those surveyed said that federal and state governments are not doing enough to help them meet local housing needs, and 55% reported that such support was fair or poor.
In terms of ground-level efforts to provide housing opportunities, cities are most likely to collaborate with nonprofit organizations (85%), banks and other lending institutions (59%), churches and other faith-based institutions (51%) and other community-based organizations (52%).
Other than city, state and federal funding for housing programs, the survey revealed that funding is also being provided by nongovernmental sources, such as banks (48%) and foundations and non-profits (43%).
At least four in five municipal housing directors said that the value of homes (91%) and rental costs (80%) have increased at least some or a lot in the past few years. One in two (56%) said that the value of homes has increased a lot.
The directors said that their biggest concerns over rising prices were that they were placing a financial strain on their residents (82%), were reducing homeownership opportunities for lower-income working families (76%) and were preventing younger generations from buying homes (63%).
A large majority of the directors said that providing housing to meet the needs of residents is somewhat of a challenge (48%) or a big challenge (34%).
Lower-income working families (68%) were the residents with the most critical housing needs, according to the housing directors, followed by elderly and aging residents (42%), disabled or dependent adults (33%), single-parent families (33%), middle-income working families (29%), transitional residents (abuse victims, ex-offenders) (27%), immigrant families (16%), racial and ethnic minorities (12%), higher-income working families (8%) and two-parent families (6%).
Providing housing was considered a big priority by 37% of the respondents and a priority by 48%. Higher priorities included infrastructure maintenance and improvements (68%), improving local economic conditions (66%), improving local fiscal conditions (57%) and stimulating the vitality of downtown (52%).
However, the respondents said that housing was connected to these other priorities, including community development and redevelopment (47%), economic development (43%), fiscal conditions (33%) and infrastructure challenges (26%).