Report: Families struggling to find affordable housing

Affordable Housing is at a premium. Here is why you should care.

The Boston Globe recently ran an article looking at the state of affordable housing in Massachusetts. Affordable housing is a central component of United Way’s work in family financial stability, and an eye-popping report like the Globe’s further illustrates why.

From the article:

Massachusetts has the sixth-highest median rent in the nation as the supply of rental housing has failed to keep up with the surge in renters following the recent housing collapse and foreclosure crisis, according to the study from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. More than one in four renters here and nationally must spend more than half their income on their housing, a level the report described as “unimaginable just a decade ago.”

“These are troubling trends,” said Eric Belsky, executive director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “In this kind of situation, you worry about people’s ability to get into any kind of rental housing.”

The median rent in Massachusetts has climbed to $1,000 a month, according to the study. Hawaii had the highest median rent, $1,300, followed by Washington, D.C., at just below $1,200. And while median rents nationally have risen 7 percent to $861 a month in 2012 from $802 in 2000, median renters’ incomes have fallen from $3,106 to $2,711 in the same period, the report said.

Click here to read the rest, which offers much more context and reasons why housing costs have shockwave effects on the rest of the region. There’s also a link to a housing study, showing where Boston ranks as far a metropolitan rent rates.

Where does United Way fit in? Through strategic investments, initiatives and the critical work of our partner agencies, we are making headway in the affordable housing issue:

  • During the past year, United Way agencies provided safe, affordable housing for over 7,000 thousand families and helped over 17,000 families to avoid homelessness.
  • At United Way financial stability centers in Lawrence, Chelsea and Roxbury, staff help clients facing housing instability to secure affordable housing and to connect to other resources that foster family financial stability such as job training, employment and public benefits.
  • Over 70% of clients served during the past year at the LIFT Roxbury Financial Opportunity Center faced a housing crisis — including homelessness or risk of homelessness through eviction or foreclosure. 28% of LIFT’s clients are living doubled up with family or friends and are facing imminent displacement from their homes.
  • The United Way Family Fund provides emergency financial support to help families in crisis. This support includes current costs of food, fuel, utilities and shelter that put the household at risk.