The Impact of Affordable Housing

20 foot cabin

A local family lives crowded into this small one-room cabin.

We are living in a housing crisis. Across the United States, 1 in 6 Americans need a decent, affordable place to live. (Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2010). Housing problems include:

  • High rents which cripple the finances of low-income families
  • Overcrowding
  • Inadequate or unsafe conditions
  • Chronic homelessness.

Here in Whatcom County, high housing cost is the biggest issue facing families. About half of local low-income renters spend half or more of their income on housing, which often forces them to choose between housing and meeting other critical needs (Whatcom Prosperity Project 2010)

Homeownership is not right for everyone, but research shows that it is one of the most powerful tools available for permanently elevating families out of poverty. Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership program allows hard-working low-income families to purchase simple, decent homes at cost, with 0 percent mortgages.

Luna family home dedication

Maria and Luisa Luna celebrate the dedication of their home with Habitat Executive Director John Moon

How does home ownership fight poverty?

Homeowners tend to:

  • Have more economic opportunities
  • Be involved in their communities
  • Increase property values and safety in neighborhoods
  • Increase the local tax base, improving public services
  • Have an financial safety net and wealth to pass on to their children through their home equity

Their children tend to:

  • Be healthier
  • Do better in school, leading to more successful adult lives
  • Be more likely to own their own homes

At Habitat, we estimate that around 20,000 families in Whatcom County could qualify to purchase a home through our program. We do not have the resources to meet this need, but working together with other agencies and non-profits, government, corporate, and faith groups, we believe we can end inadequate housing in our community.

Learn more about housing issues around the United States.