The Affordable Housing Homeowner: It’s Not Who You Think

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.

 

 

 

Contact Your Elected Officials: Proposed House Budget to Zero Out SHIP

Call to Action
Proposed House Budget to Zero out SHIP
No money at all for FY 2018-19, other than funding for hurricane recovery, has been allocated. SHIP (State Housing Initiative Partnership) dollars help Habitat make mortgages more affordable. Supported by the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund, the Florida House proposes eliminating these dollars and continuing to diminish housing resources….leaving a smaller allocation for hurricane relief only.

Florida House of Representatives

Email or call your representatives in the Florida House of Representatives. You can find your House members here.

 

Email:

Dear Representative ____________:

The residents of Broward County, including our workforce, our elderly and special needs populations, need affordable housing. Our employers and our economy need affordable housing. We thank our Senators for a budget that uses all the housing trust funds for housing; no sweeps.

We urge our House members to stop sweeping the housing trust fund monies and join the Senate in using all the housing funds for housing. Please help your constituents by speaking up in favor of using housing funds for housing – we are relying upon you.

 

Florida Senate

Email or call your Senator. You can find your Senator here.

 

Email:

Dear Senator ____________:

The residents of Broward County, including our workforce, our elderly and special needs populations, need affordable housing. Our employers and our economy need affordable housing. We thank our Senators for a budget that uses all the housing trust funds for housing; no sweeps.

We urge the Senate to hold firm to its position; we will encourage our House members to stop sweeping the housing trust fund monies and join the Senate in using all the housing funds for housing. Thank you for helping your constituents and the communities you serve by using the housing trust funds solely for housing.

Working Families Can Achieve the American Dream – With Our Help

An Important Message from Nancy Robin, CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Broward

It is now up to the Florida House to support affordable housing and end the historic sweep of millions of dollars from the housing trust fund. Senators, Representatives and We the Citizens have the opportunity to say, “Stop!” to protect the American Dream of homeownership, and to keep a roof overhead for the cashiers, health care workers, servers and others who are working hard to build a future in Florida.

For many of us, owning a home of our own is the American Dream. Historically, homeownership has been the path to economic security and upward mobility, particularly for low income and minority families. The American Dream is being shattered, however, by rising home prices, low wages and broken promises by the Florida Legislature which has failed to fully fund the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund.

The benefits of homeownership are numerous. Compared to renters of the same age, race and income, children of homeowners perform better in school and graduate from high school and college in greater numbers. Homeownership results in better health, reduced crime and increased civic engagement.

Owning a home also allows one to build assets and save for the future. This is especially true for low income and minority families. Habitat homeowners tell us that buying a home proves to their children that, with hard work and perseverance, dreams really can come true.

Sadly, homeownership is far beyond the reach of the vast majority of our hard-working, low-income households. Over half of Broward County’s workforce falls into the low-income category, earning wages below 80% of the area median income. Compounding this crisis is the cost of available rentals, which are unaffordable to 85% of median income earners.

Florida lawmakers have the power to help more low-income families find a decent place to call home by ensuring 100% of the Sadowski housing trust funds are used solely for affordable housing programs. We are very encouraged that the Florida Senate has passed a bill which preserves housing trust funds for their intended use and stops the diversion of what, since 2003, totals more than $2 billion…dollars swept from the trust fund for purposes other than affordable housing. (Note: Broward also has the distinction of contributing far more to the fund than it receives—an estimated $80+M over the last five years.)

It is now up to the Florida House to support affordable housing and end the historic sweep of millions of dollars from the housing trust fund. Senators, Representatives and we the Citizens have the opportunity to say, “Stop!” to protect the American Dream of homeownership, and to keep a roof overhead for the cashiers, health care workers, servers and others who are working hard to build a future in Florida.

Go to www.myfloridahouse.gov and www.flsenate.gov to find your legislators. If you agree that everyone deserves a decent place to live, then tell them you support preserving 100% of the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing. Urge them to stay committed to this goal. Contact us at info@habitatbroward.org for more information.

Civil Rights and Humanity: A brief story depicting Habitat for Humanity’s connection to the Civil Rights movement

 In celebration of the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we took a look back in the history books and found a heartwarming connection between Dr. King, the Koinonia Farm, and our Habitat for Humanity founders, Millard and Linda Fuller.
 
The story begins with a gentleman by the name of Dr. Clarence Leonard Jordan (1912-1969), who cofounded Koinonia Farm in 1942 in Americus, Georgia. Jordan had received support from local residents until the summer of 1956. It was in this year that segregationists organized a boycott after Jordan backed the attempt by a black member of the community to enroll at the University of Georgia. As a result,  Koinonia supporters were forced to seek alternate ways to market the farm’s products, and then on January 14, the farm’s roadside market was set on fire, causing nearly $7,000 in damage. Unfortunately, the attacks did not stop there; four days later, another building on the farm was burned to the ground, and arson was attempted on the barn of a sympathetic neighbor. 
 
Frustrated and disheartened, Dr. Jordan wrote a letter to Dr. King to seek insurance advice. He explained that the farm’s insurance had been “canceled so much that we have exhausted every source we know.”
 
Dr. King responded with words of encouragement and a referral to an Atlanta-based insurance agency that could possibly help Dr. Jordan and the Koinonia community. Here is an excerpt from Dr. King’s letter written on February 10, 1957:
 
“…You and the Koinonia Community have been in my prayers continually for the last several months. The injustices and indignities that you are now confronting certainly leave you in trying moments. I hope, however, that you will gain consolation from the fact that in your struggle for freedom and a true Christian community you have cosmic companionship. God grant that this tragic midnight of man’s inhumanity to man will soon pass and the bright daybreak of freedom and brotherhood will come into being.”
 
Enter the Fullers, who visited Koinonia in 1965 after recently leaving a successful business and affluent lifestyle in Montgomery, Alabama, to begin a new life of Christian service. While there, Jordan and the Fullers developed the concept of “partnership housing,” in which people in need of adequate shelter would work alongside volunteers to build decent houses. These houses would not be built for profit, and no interest would be charged on the loans. In addition, building costs for each home would come from “The Fund for Humanity,” which would also be used to build more houses. Money for this would come from house payments, fundraising, and no-interest loans provided by supporters.
 
After Koinonia laid out 42 half-acre house sites with four acres reserved as a community park and recreational area in 1968, people all over the country donated capital to start homebuilding. Thus, Habitat for Humanity was born.
 
On this January 15, Habitat for Humanity thanks Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the guidance and support he gave to Dr. Jordan and the Koinonia Community. He believed that every person deserves equal rights, and this is an ideal we strive to uphold each day as we help families achieve their dream of homeownership.
Sources: Stanford University: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project

Defining Affordable Housing