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Need to know
September 13, 2013

What you need to know about ending and preventing homelessness, creating and preserving affordable rental housing and supporting low-income people with challenges to housing stability.

It’s only with strong public will and a spectrum of resources that we will end homelessness in our communities and our state. Preserving and creating affordable places for older adults, young workers, and low income families to live must be a priority. We haven't kept up the n

According to a new Family Housing Fund report, rents have risen 6 percent BUT incomes have decreased 16 percent from 2000-2010. One result is that 30 percent more low-income people are cost-burdened by housing – and the fastest growing segment of this group is paying more than half their income for rent. There are tough calls being made all over our cities and state– kids are skipping lunch, moms are skipping dinner, people are driving without car insurance, prescriptions are going unfilled so people can pay their rent.

In the past decade Beacon has built or preserved nearly 500 homes, about half of which offer supportive housing for people with very low incomes who have been homeless, or have a disability or criminal background that can make staying housed a particular challenge. We know supportive housing is an effective way to end and prevent homelessness. It’s not easy to assemble just the right package of rent subsidies, capital and ongoing operational funds to create new housing. But we're working on more - we ahve 225 units in various stages of development or planning, about 2/3 of which are supportive. 

We also know people want and need other options. Many need simply a place they can afford on a modest paycheck, one that's in good repair and in a neighborhood near jobs, schools and transportation. There are programs promoting home ownership and helping owners to keep up their homes (Urban Homeworks, Habitat for Humanity). Others want or need to rent. As reported in this smart summary by Twin Cities Planet editor Mary Turck the unsubsidized affordable housing market is an often overlooked option that according the original report, “The Space Between: Realities and Possibilities in Preserving Unsubsidized Affordable Rental Housing,” could use a little help from its friends.

“The Space Between” isn’t beach reading. But it’s worth reading about the unsubsidized affordable housing market, why lots of working people are squeezed and the kind of “light support” needed to make these homes viable for owners to maintain and operate – and livable and affordable for tenants.