Who Lives in Affordable Housing?
There is certainly a sense of shame among the topic of affordable housing and its population. However, data proves that many of the beliefs behind this are untrue. Below are a few myths we hope to dispel about the people who live in affordable housing.
“People who live in affordable housing don’t work.”
It is a common belief that people who live in affordable housing are in a state of absolute poverty or do not have jobs. However, many of these people are valuable employees right here in Broward County, including pre-school teachers, bank tellers, social workers, legal aides, and tourism and service professionals such as servers and bartenders.
If they work, why do they need affordable housing? They are simply not making enough money to make ends meet. These are people we come across every day, trying to make a living and struggling to keep a roof over their heads. In Florida, these households are making a median income of $64,100 a year. When the employees mentioned above spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, it limits their ability to cover necessary expenses such as food, education, insurance and clothing. It is especially hard to save any money for the future under these circumstances.
The United Way’s ALICE Report describes heads of households who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. ALICE households make more than the Federal Poverty Level ($11,770) but less than what it costs to survive in Florida ($24,250 for a family of four). In 2015, out of 673,870 total heads of household in Broward County, a whopping 44 percent were in poverty and in the ALICE threshold.
“People in affordable housing are all minorities.”
ALICE and poverty-level households exist in every racial and ethnic group in Florida. In fact, white households also make up the largest number of households living below the ALICE threshold in the state, at 26 percent. There were 1.7 million white households both in poverty and in the ALICE threshold in 2015, compared to 1.5 million Asian, black, and Hispanic households in poverty and the ALICE threshold.
“People looking for affordable housing are just looking for a handout.”
Affordable housing is part of a state and federal effort to ensure hard working Americans have shelter for themselves and their family. Habitat for Humanity does not simply “give people homes;” these future homeowners participate in an extensive pre-qualification process, employment is required, and the average Habitat homeowner pours a minimum of 300 hours of “sweat equity” into the construction of their home.
At Habitat for Humanity, we believe that everyone should be able to live their life, make their choices and experience the world. Those who live in affordable housing can afford their mortgages and spend their dollars on life’s necessities because the intense financial burden of obtaining a home has been eased.
They now have access to so much more of the world then they did before, and their children do as well. These myths must be dispelled to permanently change the negative stigma that currently surrounds the topic of affordable housing in our county, state and nation.