Nearly 19 million households across the United States are spending at least half of their income on a place to live, often forgoing basic necessities such as food and health care to make ends meet. In Columbia County, 47.6% of renters pay more than 30% of their income on housing while 34% of homeowners pay 30% or more of their income on housing. The stability that housing should bring continues to remain out of reach for many people. On Wednesday, Columbia County Habitat joined other Habitat organizations across the country to launch a new national advocacy campaign aimed at improving home affordability for 10 million people in the U.S. over the next five years.
Marking significant growth in Habitat’s commitment to ensuring that everyone has a safe and decent place to call home, the Cost of Home campaign seeks to identify and improve policies and systems through coordinated advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels.
Cost of Home focuses on improving housing affordability across the housing continuum in four specific policy areas: increasing supply and preservation of affordable homes, equitably increasing access to credit, optimizing land use for affordable homes, and ensuring access to and development of communities of opportunity. Columbia County Habitat is taking steps toward these goals. Efforts include support of Affordable Homeownership Funding for homeownership. Despite dramatic increases in the cost of construction over the past 30 years, allocations to build a homeownership unit have not increased significantly since the program inception in 1985. AHC reform bill (S1824) will allow increased per unit allocations for homeownership projects which include permanent affordability restrictions. Further, Columbia County Habitat supports the Community Land Trust Tax Exemption, an effort to limit tax assessments on re-sale restricted homes on community land trusts to ensure generational affordability is preserved. Especially important in Columbia County where 71.3% of houses were built before 1980, we also support additional funding to help with the costs of Lead and Asbestos Remediation in the homes we rehabilitate. Columbia County Habitat Executive Director, Brenda Adams, stated “Home ownership is the foundation of community. These bills will assist low-wage, working families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance that comes with home ownership. That’s why we’re committed to mobilizing our partners, volunteers and community members to find solutions and help create policies that will increase access to affordable housing for Columbia County residents.”
More details about Habitat’s Cost of Home policy platform and campaign activation are available at habitat.org/costofhome. For more information or to speak to Columbia County Habitat about the campaign, please contact us at (518) 828-0892