The concept of affordable housing is easy and simple. Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs for either rented or purchased unit. Other features of affordable housing include it is well built, located close to transport, shops, hospitals and community services, as well as suited to its residents. It is for this reason that government set its goal to ensure everyone is living in housing of adequate quality at a price they can afford. However, the government has turned into wrong definition of decency and affordability. Firstly, decency is subjective according to different cultures. The US government is setting a very high value on living environment, and such a high standard may cause more difficulties in solving the problem (HUD May 21, 2011).
Affordable housing or subsidized housing is the term the government uses to help with a portion of money based on what the individual make annually. Affordable housing involves a lot of policies. There are two types of ways the government use through affordable housing program which are section 8 and tax credit housing program. Low income housing or Section 8 is a government subsidized program that allows for low income families to stay in apartment complexes by making up the rent difference between the market rent and rent low income families can pay to the landlord.
Affordable housing became a national priority after the stock market crash of 1929. Until the 1960s, the national focus was on increasing the housing stock. During the 1960s, many housing acts were passed, which provided infrastructure for home improvements, land acquisition discounts, subsidies for rentals, and funds enabling state and local organizations to finance their own housing and community development programs. In the 1970s, the government took a step back to review current programs and funding, after which legislators merged programs and created initiatives that focused on public housing and the need for housing assistance.
The last two decades of the Twentieth Century saw increasing inflation and aging housing that moved the focus from creating affordable housing to reusing and preserving the current housing stock. Since then, subsidized housing has been an integral part of government assistance to low income families. However, subsidized housing has a bad stigma attached to it nowadays. People are not happy if their neighborhood is chosen as the site for a subsidized housing development project. Clearly, residents do not want subsidized housing initiatives to be taken in their neighborhoods. However, for low income families, subsidized housing is the only means to keep a roof over their heads. Knowledge of subsidized housing or Section 8 program among landlords was limited.
SECTION 8 VOUCHERS PROGRAM
The most successful, long term, low-income housing projects are those that use sustainable design and address the social, cultural, and economic needs of residents. Traditionally built low-income housing projects are associated with high crime rates and high mortality rates among the residents who live in them. They do not provide for the needs of residents, resulting in many of the problems these low-income housing projects face today.
These problems range from endangerment of human life, psychological afflictions due to the high stresses that are endured by residents, disease epidemics caused by overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions (in combination with a substandard public health system,) and rejection from the greater community based on the stigma traditional low-income housing projects have generated. Sustainable, or “green” design offers many solutions to the problems housing projects present today, including healthier living environments, high efficiency utility systems that result in lower bills for residents, safe recreation areas for common use, a sense of community within the project as well as with the greater community, and aesthetically pleasing environments to live in.
Building with sustainable materials alone will not alleviate the problems traditional housing has, but must combine elements of sustainable design with residents’ needs. By implementing sustainable low-income housing projects with residents’ need in mind, the developers, residents, and the community as a whole will benefit. Low-income housing projects that are sustainably designed are intrinsically better than traditionally built housing projects for a variety of reasons, including the benefits they provide to a wide range of people.
Residents of low-income housing projects that are sustainably built can benefit in a myriad of ways. Section 8 is calculated on the 10% of the individual income and has been created for families with more than 4 members or for singles’ mothers, tax credit housing program is calculated on the 30% of the individual income and has been created for single and people which annual income does not exceed the 19,999.99 per year (Housing in the 21st Century 200-13). Section 8 Housing vouchers are provided to the low income families as an alternative housing assistance.
The program is regulated by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is good that programs like this exist versus having rent ceilings put into place. If there were rent ceilings, assuming that they were very low, there would be a huge shortage on the supply of housing while there is also a huge demand. This would create a problem because people with little income would find it hard to locate housing at a price that is affordable to them, while it would also be very hard to produce new housing because of low rents yielding low profits. Economically taking nowadays people are facing troubles in order to pay a regular market rent. Without housing subsidization programs such as the Section 8 Housing voucher program, it would be nearly impossible for low income families to find housing that they could afford. It would also be very difficult for new housing to be created due to the low generation of rent and the surplus of housing.
Families that were issued with a housing voucher are totally responsible for finding a suitable housing unit where the owner of the house where they are planning to move in agrees to rent it out under the program. Although if this were to occur, rent price would decline, in turn just hurting the economy and still leaving it hard to build new properties. Without programs like this, many people in America would be homeless and the economy would be hurting even more than it already is due to low income families finding it hard to locate and pay for affordable housing. From a cost and benefit perspective on the voucher program; the cost starts with the family receiving the voucher. They pay 30% of their gross income towards their monthly rent (HUD “Section 8 vouchers and LITHC”). Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, is a Cabinet department in the Executive branch of the United States federal
government. Although its beginnings were in the House and Home Financing Agency, it was founded as a Cabinet department in 1965, as part of the “Great Society” program of President Lyndon Johnson, to develop and execute policies on housing and metropolises. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the principal Federal agency responsible for programs concerned with the Nation’s housing needs, fair housing opportunities, and improvement and development of the Nation’s communities (History of HUD 8-12).
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was created to: administer the principal programs that provide assistance for housing and for the development of the Nation’s communities; encourage the solution of housing and community development problems through States and localities; and encourage the maximum contributions that may be made by vigorous private homebuilding and mortgage lending industries, both primary and secondary, to housing, community development, and the national economy (History of HUD 13-16).
Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. Housing Agent determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the Housing Agent will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. Housing Agencies will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project’s environment.
The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD work to strength the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business (History of HUD 17). Tenant Civil Rights under subsidized programs
Tenants who are receiving a federal, state or local housing subsidy have certain rights and protections under Massachusetts law. It is against Massachusetts law for a real estate agent or a property owner to refuse to rent to you because you have a housing subsidy. Additionally, it is against the law for a real estate agent or a property owner to refuse to rent to you because of any of the requirements of a housing subsidy program (including required inspections, repairs or lead paint abatement if you have children under six). It is also against the law for someone to state a discriminatory preference against someone participating in a housing subsidy program. These are all examples of housing discrimination in Massachusetts (History of HUD 22-29).