2018 Affordable Housing Advisory Council Annual Report
Report From The Chair
For those in our communities who struggle monthly, weekly, daily, and often nightly, too, just to have a safe, decent, and stable place to call home, headlines like these aren’t new “news,” nor can the stories that follow the headlines fully capture the harsh reality of their own lived experiences.
- Housing affordability crisis is nationwide (Mercury News)
- Average Americans can't afford a home in 70 percent of the country (CBS News)
- Rural America faces housing cost hardship (Christian Science Monitor)
- Senior housing: Older Americans face affordability, accessibility challenges (Curbed)
- Middle-Class Misery: Housing Crisis Hitting Cities, Working Americans Harder Than Ever Before (BisNow)
- Homeless in US: A deepening crisis on the streets of America (BBC)
But headlines like this do succeed in signaling the growing scale and severity of the country’s affordability crisis, and they offer at least a glimpse of the pernicious effects the crisis is having on an ever-expanding cross-section of the population, especially in the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco’s three-state western district that includes Arizona, California, and Nevada.
As the lack of affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families and individuals makes the national and local news day after day, we can see an important, and potentially hopeful, shift in the public discourse on the subject.
According to a recently published national public opinion poll commissioned by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, fully 85% of the American public now believes that ensuring everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a top national priority. The response is strong across political divides: 95% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 73% of Republicans agree with this priority. Ninety percent of respondents also believe that this country, one of the richest nations in the world, should do more to prevent homelessness.
The news that the poll reveals is that “While people in the United States almost unanimously agree that stable affordable housing is very important or one of the most important things that affect security and well-being, they are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of housing. In fact, 60% say housing affordability is a serious problem in the area where they live, which is up 21 points from 2016. Majorities of people who live in cites (70%), suburbs (59%) and small town and rural areas (53%) say housing affordability is a problem in the area where they live.”
Eighty-nine percent of poll respondents say that when people must spend more than half of their monthly income on housing, it’s “a big problem.” Importantly, personal experience factors heavily into these poll results: 61% say that they themselves have had to make at least one sacrifice—such as working more than one job, stopping retirement savings, skipping payments for utilities, forgoing healthcare, cutting back on buying healthy foods, or limiting learning-enhancing activities for school-age children—because of their high housing costs.
When so many people can see themselves, their family members, their friends, and neighbors represented by such alarming headlines and cold statistics, the public pressure to solve the problem naturally builds. That’s why, for affordable housing practitioners, advocates, and allies, together with a host of other community and economic development stakeholders, evidence of a widespread consensus on the importance of affordable housing comes with an implied promise: that greater awareness and understanding of the crisis may give the search for solutions a vital new urgency.