Habitat for Humanity advocate

March 10, 2016 public statement

Meeting America’s urgent housing needs will require solutions from both the private and public sectors

WASHINGTON (March 10, 2016) – An increasing number of families across the United States face challenges in finding decent and affordable housing. For nearly one of every six households, housing costs comprise more than half of household income, leaving little to cover other basic needs. As this trend raises visibility of the problem, policymakers across the country, particularly in high-cost areas, are debating how best to provide housing solutions that work for families of all income levels in urban and exurban areas and that support the recovery and resilience of local economies.

“Habitat for Humanity applauds the increasing number of policymakers who recognize decent and affordable shelter provides strength, self-reliance and stability. However, unless they incorporate a range of public and private solutions, their proposals will not reach low-income individuals,” said Christopher Ptomey, senior director of Government Relations at Habitat for Humanity International. “Private development alone, while critical, cannot address all housing needs; only a strategy encompassing both the private and public sectors will reach families of all income levels. To address housing needs, private sector solutions must be accompanied by public sector involvement and investment.”

Safe, decent and affordable housing offers well-documented benefits, including family stability, better health and improved educational outcomes. Lack of access to such housing can have staggering effects for multiple generations, while undermining mortgage markets and the U.S. economy.

“While the debate over solutions has sparked important conversations in communities across the country, Habitat for Humanity is calling for a national conversation and federal action to broaden access to decent housing for families of all income levels,” Ptomey said. “One federal-level priority for Habitat for Humanity is reform of the housing finance system. Responsible reform would attract private capital back to secondary mortgage markets, enabling mortgage lenders to serve all credit worthy borrowers with market rate products affordable to lower- and middle-income households. For families beyond the reach of market-based solutions, however, targeted government resources must be available at the local, state and federal levels.”

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