[Hpn] Nation needs trust to assure affordable housing;Kentucky Post;10/10/01
Morgan W. Brown
Thu, 11 Oct 2001 13:12:10 -0400
-------Forwarded published guest column-------
Wednesday, October 10, 2001
Kentucky Post <http://www.kypost.com>
Guest Column by Suzy Post
Nation needs trust to assure affordable housing
Column by Suzy Post
Wondering whether Kentucky has a housing crisis? Just ask one of the more
than 8,000 households on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in Jefferson
County. And the housing crisis isn't limited to Louisville. Thousands of
Kentucky residents earn less than $8.65 an hour, the wage needed to afford
an average two-bedroom apartment in the state.
Some families may double up in cramped quarters. Others may find themselves
in substandard housing or in need of homeless shelters.
The truth is, wages for working families just aren't keeping up with the
cost of housing and utilities. Just take the 6,800 households receiving
Section 8 housing in Jefferson County. Most of those households fall into
two categories, according to the Section 8 office in Jefferson County, they
are either elderly and disabled or single parents with children. Of those
who are not elderly or disabled, 75 percent of them are working.
The magnitude of the crisis shows up in the numbers nationwide also: Some
5.5 million families are in ''worse case housing need,'' according to the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This means that they are
homeless, in unsafe or unsanitary housing and/or are paying more than 50
percent of their income for rent.
And it may only get worse. Last month nationwide 407,000 people filed for
unemployment insurance, indicating a possible slowdown that could strain
resources even more.
There are solutions to the crisis. One of the most long lasting would be the
creation of a National Housing Trust Fund, similar to more than 170 programs
created by cities, counties and states. Now it's time for the same measure
at a national level to have an even broader impact on the growing housing
Housing Trust Funds have been created to ensure a permanent source of public
revenue for the production and preservation of affordable housing and have
generated more than $500 million a year. The money is used to build hundreds
of thousands of homes for the elderly, disabled and low-wage working
families and help create thousands of living wage jobs for construction
workers, which in turn have helped strengthen local economies and stabilize
Cities and states have learned that building affordable homes benefits
everyone by providing meaningful and well-paying jobs, reducing crime and
increasing the number of households paying property taxes. In addition,
these cities and states save on the costs associated with deteriorating
neighborhoods - from the treatment of young children for lead poisoning in
substandard housing to human and financial costs of homelessness.
A national housing trust fund would build on this model and provide not only
housing for those that need it most but investment and employment
opportunities for thousands of communities feeling the recent pinch in the
Our nation's low-income working families and others have already been left
out of the $1.35 trillion tax cut package that overwhelmingly benefits the
wealthiest Americans. In fact, studies show that when the Bush tax cuts are
fully implemented, the top 1 percent of taxpayers will receive between
$37,000 and $44,000. The lowest 20 percent will receive only $65 - that $65
will not go very far in addressing the growing gap between low incomes and
the rising cost of housing.
In any case, we must hold the president accountable to his promise that the
tax cut wouldn't detract from funding important government services. In
fact, we are at a moment when real investment in housing is possible.
According to a recent U.S. General Accounting Office report, approximately
$15.8 billion in untapped federal housing money exists. The unprecedented
surplus of housing funds challenges the long-standing argument that the
United States can not afford to solve its housing problems.
Given the housing crisis, it makes sense that revenue produced by federal
housing programs be used to solve the nation's housing problems.
This summer, two measures were introduced in Congress to establish a
National Housing Trust Fund using approximately $5 billion of housing
surplus funds annually and other revenue. The Trust Fund would be
administered by local governments, states and the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development. In addition, other bills have been introduced which
would build new housing and preserve existing housing.
For too long we have kept affordable housing out of reach for millions of
people. It's time to create a National Housing Trust Fund and open the door
to a new era in the sadly neglected field of affordable housing.
Suzy Post is the executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, a
124-member organization advocating for public policies which would promote
and/or provide safe, affordable housing for low-income persons in
Publication date: 10-10-01
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
-------End of forward-------
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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