Nothing is more heart wrenching than seeing a family with children suffering in homelessness. It’s one of the most challenging things our volunteers work with at Love INC. People become homeless for a number of reasons. It could be job loss, medical issues, other economic problems, and sometimes poor choices. Because of the high cost of housing, becoming homeless can be as simple as getting in a car accident that takes away transportation to work.
Homelessness affects our children to their core. As housing becomes unstable child development is negatively impacted. In a recent report, The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis, Heather Sandstrom and Sandra Huerta shared that, “children experiencing residential instability demonstrate worse academic and social outcomes than their residentially-stable peers”. And while “elementary school children appear to be the most sensitive to residential change,… residential instability is related to poor social development across age groups.”
One of the key factors to housing stability is affordability. According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, someone in Michigan would need to earn more than $15 per hour to afford a two bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% on rent.
One solution is in development by The National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). The NHTF was established as a provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The NHTF will, once capitalized, provide communities with funds to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households.
The NHTF’s most important features are:
- It is a permanent program, and will have dedicated sources of funding not subject to the annual appropriations process.
- It is targeted toward rental housing. At least 90% of the funds must be used for the production, preservation, rehabilitation, or operation of rental housing. Up to 10% can be used for home ownership activities for first-time home buyers including production, preservation, and rehabilitation, as well as down payment, closing cost, and for interest rate buy-down assistance.
- It is targeted toward extremely low income households. At least 75% of the funds for rental housing must benefit extremely low income households, and up to 25% can benefit very low income households.
This won’t solve the entire problem in Michigan, but it could be a step in the right direction. What are you innovative ideas to help with housing instability?
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