Washington, D.C. – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) applauds the Biden-Harris administration and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) for releasing a comprehensive and ambitious plan to reduce homelessness by 25% by 2025 and set our nation on a path to ending homelessness. Importantly, the plan recommits the federal government to the proven, effective strategy of Housing First and to directly addressing the racial inequities that contribute to homelessness.
“Homelessness is one of our country’s most urgent, tragic, and solvable crises,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “In every community across the nation, the affordable housing crisis is putting America’s lowest-income and most marginalized people at greater risk of housing instability, eviction, and in the worst cases, homelessness. NLIHC and our members are committed to working with the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to invest in proven solutions at the scale necessary to end homelessness, once and for all.”
The underlying causes of America’s housing and homelessness crisis are the severe shortage of homes affordable and available to people with the lowest incomes and the widening gap between incomes and housing costs. There is a national shortage of 7 million homes that are affordable and available to America’s lowest-income renters – those earning less than either the federal poverty rate or 30% of their area median income (AMI). The severe shortage of affordable and available homes for extremely low-income renters is a structural feature of the country’s housing system, consistently impacting every state and nearly every community.
Housing costs are out of reach for too many of the lowest-income renters. Rents are far higher than what the lowest-income and most marginalized renters, including seniors, people with disabilities, and working families, can spend on housing. A full-time worker must earn at least $21.25 per hour to rent a modest one-bedroom home, or $25.82 per hour to rent a modest two-bedroom home. Yet despite the clear and urgent need, Congress only provides housing assistance to one in four eligible households.
Without affordable housing options, 10 million of the lowest-income renter households pay at least half of their income on rent, leaving them without the resources they need to put food on the table, purchase needed medications, or otherwise make ends meet.Paying so much of their limited income on rent leaves these households always just one financial shock away from facing eviction and homelessness.
To fully end America’s housing and homelessness crisis, Congress and the administration must increase investments in long-term solutions to the underlying shortage of affordable, accessible homes and improve renter protections. This should start with ensuring rental assistance is universally available to everyone in need, preserving and expanding the supply of homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes through investments in the national Housing Trust Fund and public housing, creating permanent emergency resources to help prevent households from facing evictions and homelessness, and strengthening and enforcing renter protections. These solutions must be paired with anti-racist reforms to break down barriers that prevent access to critical resources and that deepen racial disparities. As Congress works towards long-term solutions, the Biden administration must take immediate action to protect tenants from soaring rent hikes and homelessness.
# # #