The Benefits of Affordable Housing
|•||Creates jobs: the construction and/or rehabilitation of affordable housing generates new employment opportunity for multiple trades and has a multiplier effect on suppliers of materials and services. In addition, workers spend dollars near the work site and on the way home.|
|•||Supports stable education: young people living in stable homes do better in school, avoiding the upheaval caused by frequent moves and/or homelessness.|
|•||Reduces traffic congestion: if affordable options exist, people are able to live close to their jobs and shop in their immediate neighborhood, making for fewer commuter miles driven. More communities are being built on or near public transit.|
|•||Promotes public safety: rehabilitating neglected properties and recreating those communities can reduce police and emergency calls, as well as gang activity, and contribute to higher adjacent property values.|
|•||Leads to better health: housing built to sustainable standards and maintained by responsible sponsors avoids the risks of illness to kids and parents resulting from poorly managed rental properties.|
|•||Builds self-sufficiency: if you want to work, you need an affordable place to call home.|
|•||Builds community: in complete communities, people of diverse cultural/racial backgrounds and incomes are able to live together. People can become close to their neighbors and community members who may help with grocery shopping, home maintenance and trips to the doctor. In practice, that means providing a range of housing options to meet diverse needs, including those of families, senior citizens and people with disabilities.|
While some affordable housing is built or renovated by government agencies, most of the affordable housing activity in Washington County is the product of private developers, primarily nonprofit community development organizations, that obtain project financing from a variety of sources. A given proposed project may reflect in its pro forma anywhere from three to ten loans, grants, and equity investments from local banks, investors, government agencies, and other non-profit partners.
As Washington County grows and plans for the development of new neighborhoods, the Fund has advocated for the creation of a range of housing types and prices so that complete communities are the outcome of future growth. In area such as South Hillsboro, Amber Glen, and Cooper Mountain, concept plans are under way to define and map the layout, design, and supply of housing and retail development. Similarly, Beaverton and Hillsboro are beginning to implement recently adopted urban renewal strategies.
What does Affordable Mean in Washington County?
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers housing “affordable” if it costs no more than 30 percent of a household’s monthly income for rent or mortgage and utilities.
By this standard, a household of four in Washington County in 2015 with an income of $22,170 which is 30 percent of the median family income ($73,900) can afford to spend no more than $554 per month for affordable housing. A family with an annual income of $37,000 which is 50 percent of median family income can afford only $925. And HUD tells us that the fair market rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $944.
2015 data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition reveal that a household in Washington County must earn $18.15 an hour ($37,760) to afford a two-bedroom apartment. That represents two family members working full-time at minimum wage levels. At the same time, income has not kept pace with the costs of housing in the County, and much of the job growth is occurring in the service and retail sectors. With the minimum wage in Oregon at $9.25 per hour, it is easy to see how a two-parent household, even with both working, struggles to earn a “housing wage.”