New Report from NLIHC and PAHRC Highlights Preservation Risks Threatening Affordable Housing

NLIHC and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) released a new report, 2020 Picture of Preservation. The report explores the pivotal role the federal government plays in building and preserving affordable rental housing at a time when millions of people in America face housing instability due to the coronavirus pandemic. The report notes that of the nearly 300,000 federally assisted rental homes with rental contracts or affordability restrictions expiring in the next five years, 58% demonstrate two or more known risk factors for loss from the affordable housing stock.

Even before the pandemic, the United States faced a shortage of seven million affordable rental homes and for the lowest-income renter households. The report finds that just 4.9 million rental homes are subsidized through federal project-based subsidies to serve low-income households, representing only 10% of the entire rental housing stock. Nearly two-thirds of these homes (64%) are more than 20 years old.

Many of these homes are at risk of being lost from the affordable housing stock through expiration of affordability requirements, deteriorating physical conditions, and inadequate federal funding. The report finds that affordability restrictions are set to expire for 299,303 publicly supported homes in the next five years. Fifty-eight percent of these homes demonstrate two or more known risk factors, including no capital subsidies in the past 20 years, for-profit ownership, construction more than 45 years ago, and failing inspection scores.

NLIHC and PAHRC used information from the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD) and other sources to compile the findings in the report. “We hope local planners, policymakers, and housing professionals will use these data and the findings from this report to inform their local housing preservation plans,” said PAHRC Director of Research and Industry Intelligence Keely Stater.

Given limited resources, communities often struggle to meet their preservation needs while still building new affordable homes. The report concludes that the preservation of federally assisted rental housing requires an increase in funding for the national Housing Trust Fund, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program, and the public housing capital fund. Given the importance of affordable housing to families’ well-being and to public health, there is an urgent need for significant federal investments in programs that preserve existing affordable homes,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.

Affordable housing preservation must also be supported by policies that promote long-term affordability, such as incentivizing or requiring owners to agree to longer affordable periods and by adopting first right of refusal if an owner wishes to sell.

The 2020 Picture of Preservation is available here.

Statewide preservation profiles are available here