For Americans struggling to overcome housing insecurity, the pressure to find and hold onto a permanent residence that is affordable can be unrelenting.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), in 2020, a full-time worker needed to earn $23.96 per hour to afford the average fair market rent of a two-bedroom apartment. At that rate, more than 60% of workers in the U.S. cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment. Further almost three-quarters of the lowest-income renters spent over half of their monthly incomes on housing, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) published in 2020.
Women are disproportionately impacted by the high cost of housing for several reasons, one being pay inequality – in 2018, women earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the U.S. Census bureau. In addition to this pay gap, the persistent effects of the COVID pandemic have made the disparities more acute. Among mothers with school-age children, there has been a 1.4 million increase in women who are not actively working versus a year ago. Also, the impact of the pandemic has been even more pronounced on the labor-force participation rate for Black and Hispanic women. In each demographic, employment is down approximately 4 percentage points from last year, compared to a 2-percentage point decline for the total population.
Affordability without Compromise
The need for affordable housing among women is real. In 2019, nearly one in nine women and more than one in seven children lived in poverty, and women were 35% more likely to live in poverty than men, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Moreover, government data, compiled by USAFacts in February 2021, shows that nearly a third of HUD-subsidized households are headed by single mothers, while women, overall, serve as head of household for 75% of HUD-subsidized units.
The cost burden for these women extends far beyond housing. Lower-income renters have less residual income for other basic needs, including food, childcare and healthcare, the JCHS found. That financial strain also hinders families’ abilities to accumulate savings and build financial stability.
To help address these needs, we at IMPACT Community Capital understand the importance of building more affordable housing nationwide and creating residences that provide shelter and the stability required to create a home. Within our evaluation process for properties, we examine factors such as “walkability.” Is the property within walking distance of neighborhood services and conveniences, such as schools, public transportation and shopping? We also look for social services and amenities the property can offer, such as computer rooms, on-site childcare or family health and wellness services. By providing services and amenities that meet essential needs of tenants, we can create a more stable, holistic home.
Preserving Affordability: Normandie Lofts Case Study
Just as critical as the creation of affordable housing is the preservation of existing units that face expiring affordability restrictions. Across the U.S., the NLIHC estimates nearly 300,000 homes will be losing their affordability restrictions in the next three years. In these circumstances, if a property owner allows the restrictions to expire, the affordable units may convert to market-rate units, placing them out of reach for many low-income families who currently reside there.
At IMPACT, we help preserve the affordability of these properties by providing a short-term mortgage to the property owner. This financing enables the owner to maintain the units as affordable until new government financing or subsidies can be accessed, extending the affordability restrictions for another 15+ years. One of our latest short-term mortgages, for instance, financed Normandie Lofts in Los Angeles. Normandie Lofts is a 50-unit, five-story, multifamily building, and half of the units have been reserved for formerly homeless families, with the intention to increase those dedicated units over time. Through strategies such as these, we aim to help our communities get one step closer to addressing the serious issue of housing insecurity among women and families.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not an offering document for any securities. It is also not an offer of, or an agreement to provide, advisory services directly to any recipient. The information presented in this blog is intended to describe certain views of the author and Impact Community Capital, LLC. The information presented in this blog post may contain statements of opinion, forward- looking statements and relies on certain assumptions. Any such opinions, forward-looking statements and assumptions may be inaccurate, and there can be no assurances that the examples included herein will reflect actual investment outcomes. Neither the author nor Impact Community Capital LLC intends or assumes any obligation to update or revise these opinions, forward-looking statements and assumptions in light of developments which differ from those anticipated. Past performance may not be indicative of future results and there can be no guarantee as to the return or volatility of any particular impact investment or set of impact investments. All investments carry a risk of loss that investors should be willing and able to bear. Use of this document is subject to the terms and conditions set forth on Impact Community Capital LLC’s website and can be accessed at http://impactcapital.net/about/terms-and-conditions/.