Two briefs released in October by the Center for Housing Policy, the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference, review recent literature on two housing issues integral to the current policy discussion: measures of affordability and the impact of homeownership on children. The first brief looks at the increasing need for, but declining stock of, affordable housing due to changes in the housing market. The second brief reviews recent research that revisits earlier findings on the impact of homeownership on children’s education, health, and social outcomes.
“Rental Housing Affordability-A Review of Current Research” notes that the high number of foreclosures and instability of the housing market in general has increased by 2.13 million the number of people seeking rental units from 2004 to 2007. However, the brief highlights, while the housing market was booming between 1995 and 2005, two units were destroyed for every three new units created. These new units were mostly targeted to higher income earners, and many of these units that are still vacant are not accessible to low income households.
The brief also notes that renter incomes have not kept pace with increasing rents. The authors question whether the 70% of a household’s income that remains after allotting the 30% suggested maximum for housing costs, is adequate, especially in the case of low income earners, to cover other necessities like food and health care.
The second brief, “Foundation for Success? A Review of New Research on the Effects of Homeownership on Children,” looks at new studies that re-examine earlier research showing a link between homeownership and better outcomes for children. The newer research suggests homeownership per se is not the factor that betters children’s educational, health, and social outcomes. Instead, the review finds that residential stability, neighborhood quality, and character traits of the parents are the determining factors in childhood success, and that these traits are often associated with homeownership. The authors of the briefs conclude that the new research supports policies that benefits renters and homeowners more equally, noting that neighborhood stability and quality are achievable whether a household owns or rents its home.
Both briefs mentioned above and others from the “Insights from Housing Policy” series can be viewed at: http://www.nhc.org/insights_briefs.html