Affordable housing leads to sustainable communities. Gentrification is happening all over America. Increased property values have displaced lower-income families and small businesses. According to a report on money.cnn.com, 11 million Americans dedicate at least half of their income toward housing cost. A total of 21.3 million are spending 30% or more of their income to cover rent. These are both record highs. It is recommended by personal finance experts that we budget around 30% of monthly income to cover housing costs. Just this past April, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to approve legislation to prohibit municipalities in Tennessee from mandating that developers include affordable housing in new residential development. Unfortunately, the marginalized members of society are the ones most affected by this trend.
More affluent renters continue to rent and stay in their homes longer instead of moving out and becoming home owners. This is, in some part, due to the tight inventory in the housing market. Builders are also focusing on building luxury apartments which will lead to a higher return on their investment. These factors will cause the costs of renting an apartment to go even higher. Unfortunately, wages are not keep- ing up with the costs of living. This is causing other unintended consequences. People have less to spend or invest and are forced to make false choices. We have to often times choose between eating, medicine, healthcare or home rental.
According to appartmentlist.com, Nashville Tennessee has the 5th fastest growing rent rate at 7.3%. To put this in perspective, in the United States, according to a report, the median rent for a new apartment is $1,381 in 2015. This means a renter would need to make at least $55,000 per year or $26.00 per hour to afford rent. However, the typical renter makes about $34,000 per year or $16 per hour and could only afford about $850 per month for rent.
Housing is not a left-right issue. It is not a black-white-brown issue. It is not a liberal or conservative issue, it is a humanity issue. The basic needs for one to survive are food, clothing and shelter. We should do whatever we can to ensure we all have ac- cess to affordable housing. What can be done? Some believe this is a personal responsibility issue. The theory is we should work harder, go back to school, change careers or find a job making more money. Others believe this is a public policy issue and the government should make investors supply affordable housing. The proper answer is a little of both. The government should increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. This is still not enough to live off of but it is a start. We should also educate our- selves and plan for jobs of the future. We should not depend on others to give us anything but we should have a fair chance to do what we choose.
If these things inspire you, and you want to share your ideas, please feel free to contact me [email protected] or you can follow me on Twitter @tcsheff. You can also check out my website thomsustainableconsulting.com