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A look at the affordable housing crisis in NC

If you’ve been paying attention in the last few years, you already know there’s a crisis in affordable rental housing.

For a good look at the problem in North Carolina, take a look at this recent report from the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies.

From the report:

Decent, secure, and affordable housing is a fundamental need, but finding such housing is increasingly difficult, and it’s not just an urban or rural problem. An interactive map the Urban Institute recently produced illustrates that this dilemma reaches every county in the nation.

The story is no different in North Carolina, where we face a statewide crisis in affordable rental housing. A quick scan of recent news stories in North Carolina—from Greensboro, Wilmington, Cary, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte—shows that inadequate facilities, affordability, and overcrowding in rental housing is a widespread and diverse problem.

 

The report cites a number of well-crafted stories and columns, including this report from Triad City Beat and this one from Susan Ladd at the News & Record in Greensboro.

The report comes to the obvious conclusion – and an important one during this state budget season: the government simply isn’t doing enough to address this problem.

The stats:

  • Census tracts with extreme housing conditions were found in 46 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in all regions of the state.

  • In 2013, more than 377,000 (or 28.2 percent) of the state’s rental households experienced severe cost burdens, were overcrowded, or lacked critical facilities.

  • The number of severely cost–burdened households increased by 53,737 (or 22.5 percent) between 2008 and 2013.

  • In eight census tracts, over 60 percent of renter households were severely cost burdened, with the highest percentage being 77.4 percent in a Wake County tract.

  • The number of overcrowded households increased by 20,437 (or 45.4 percent) between 2008 and 2013.

  • In six census tracts, over 30 percent of renter households were overcrowded, with the highest rate being 53 percent in a Wake County tract.

The housing problems described in the report also increase public health care costs and reliance on social support programs and lower productivity. The study’s authors suggest that combined efforts of state and local governments are needed to reverse the negative trends in housing affordability and overcrowding and improve the quality of life and economic productivity of North Carolinians.

Although the state funds the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund and administers federal programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), more needs to be done to improve and expand affordable rental housing. The most important action the state can take is to increase its contributions to the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund, which is used to produce quality affordable rental housing.

Read the full report here.

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