Having worked in Governor Scott Walker’s administration at the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) I have an understanding of the benefits of affordable housing.
Today’s affordable housing facilities are built of quality that matches or sometimes exceeds that of market-rate housing. Take a look the next time you drive near Southridge. The property was financed by WHEDA with tax credits.
Affordable housing stays rented. Why? Because most properties have waiting lists. The rents almost always get paid. A voucher system makes sure of that.
Knowing they can afford rent, families enjoy the ability to spend more on health food, health care, and other essential items.
Building, preserving and sustaining affordable housing creates good-paying jobs: construction workers, property managers, leasing agents, security staff and more. Local businesses offer these workers needed resources like fuel and food.
The mere existence of these rental units results in an increase in neighborhood security and a reduction in crime.
In my WHEDA experience rental properties were always built in areas of great need and always with strong community support.
Building properties like Berkshire Greendale is expensive and isn’t getting any cheaper.
J.David Heller, Caleb Roope, and Tom Tomaszewski write in HousingFinance.com:
The pandemic-driven boom in construction of single-family homes, apartment communities, and DIY home improvements has been a bright spot for the U.S. economy, but a troubling phenomenon is putting this economic lifeline at risk. American lumber producers have been unable or unwilling to meet the market’s demand.
As of mid-February, the price of lumber reached historic highs, and today various grades cost three times as much as they did just one year ago.
Given current lumber pricing, the affordable housing industry is deeply concerned about its ability to continue to meet the insatiable demand for affordable housing production, as well as the ability of low-income families to find safe, affordable housing in both urban and rural areas.
Those who need affordable housing the most—the front-line and essential workers who have been most severely affected by the pandemic, and all those classified as rent-burdened—will find themselves waiting longer for homes of their own.
As the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to linger, it is not just the people who reside in affordable housing that will be affected. The affordable housing construction industry supports 5.2 million jobs and generates $206 billion in tax revenue for local, state, and federal government. Delays to shovel-ready projects will be a drag on America’s post-pandemic economic recovery for at least the next decade.
The writers want President Biden to urge domestic sawmill owners to ramp up production, negotiate with China a new softwood lumber agreement and ending Canadian lumber tariffs, and investigate the low levels of lumber production.
But that’s not what the president is doing.
Award-winning national political columnist Betsy McCaughey writes Biden is going after single-family homeowners in the suburbs.
If you saved your money and bought a house in the suburbs, your investment and lifestyle are under attack. President Joe Biden is pushing to end single-family zoning. The biggest item in Biden’s infrastructure bill, now being negotiated with Congress, is $213 billion he claims will increase affordable housing. Biden wants to put the federal government in charge of zoning and distribute apartment buildings throughout single-family home neighborhoods.
That $213 billion is nearly twice the spending on roads and bridges. It will change towns everywhere and torpedo the American dream of a house with a patch of lawn.
The U.S. has a housing shortage. But many municipalities are already dealing with it. They don’t need Washington, D.C., strong-arming local decision-makers.
That’s what Biden’s plan does. The bill creates a gigantic pot of taxpayer funds to hand out to towns that surrender self-rule.
That’s a mistake. Local control is vital.
Read McCaughey’s entire column here.