The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) released its third annual research report titled 2016 PAHRC Report: Housing is a Foundation. The report finds that vulnerable populations significantly benefit from federal rental assistance paired with services. However, federal funding for housing assistance and services is in decline. The authors conclude that there is a critical need to expand funding for rental assistance and connect it to supportive services.
Federal rental assistance programs serve more than 16 million people, including approximately 6 million children, 2 million seniors, and 3 million people with disabilities. Each of these populations have needs for services. Children could benefit from greater educational supports, and seniors could benefit from health services and accessible features integrated into their housing. Seniors and people with disabilities can live independently and as part of the community as a result of rental assistance, accessible features integrated into their housing, and supportive services.
The authors found a growing demand for these resources but shrinking or stagnating funding for them. Approximately 19 million families in the U.S. potentially qualify for federal rental assistance, but only 7.3 million families actually receive it. The situation is worst for those with the lowest incomes. For extremely low income (ELI) renter households, those earning 30% or less of the area median income, there are only 28 affordable units available for every 100 ELI renter households. Twenty-three of those units are subsidized. Seventy-five percent of ELI renter households are paying more than half of their income on rent and utilities, making them severely cost-burdened.
Essential rental assistance programs like public housing and project-based rental assistance (PBRA) are shrinking. Chronic underfunding for capital and operating needs has contributed to the loss of over 200,000 public housing units since 1996. Since 1992, 346,000 PBRA units have been lost due to expiring landlord contracts.
The report concludes with a series of prescriptions to strengthen affordable housing and services for low income households. These prescriptions include: preserving the affordable housing stock, developing new affordable units, expanding tenant-based rental assistance, and linking assisted housing to supportive services. According to the authors, “providing more resources to expand the supply of rental assistance and connect rental assistance to other services should be a critical policy priority, which will result in highly successful returns.”
2016 PAHRC Report: Housing is a Foundation is available at: http://bit.ly/2abc5g7