Congress exploring new solutions for affordable housing shortage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Affordable housing is becoming harder to find as home prices soar nationwide.

Now, recent studies show the affordable housing crisis contributed to an increase in homelessness during the pandemic.

Members of Congress are discussing how to increase access to stable housing and in turn, improve the economy.

Research shows this affordable housing crisis has impacted Black and brown families at higher rates compared to white families.

“This discrimination is dragging down the economy – all of us not just people of color – it’s hurting people in communities all over the country. We could see our economy grow by a trillion dollars for the next five years – every year - if we just addressed discrimination targeted at Black Americans,” said Nikitra Bailey, National Fair Housing Alliance.

During this recent hearing, lawmakers discussed the negative impacts of previous federal housing policies like “redlining” which denied Black and brown families access to certain neighborhoods.

One solution is expanding inclusionary zoning which requires new developments to have some affordable housing.

Some experts say housing isn’t just a roof over your head, it’s a connection to economic mobility, healthcare and even education. That’s why some organizations are combining affordable housing programs with childcare support.

“Making sure there’s a direct link between long-term child success and higher levels of education through these efforts so we have specified created some facilities where we are financing early learning facilities coupled with housing folks can afford,” said Jacqueline Waggoner, Enterprise Community Partners.

Another possible solution involves expanding the housing voucher program which has helped reduce homelessness.