Is Affordable Housing the Answer?
Homelessness cannot be solved until all members of the community have access to housing that is safe, decent, and affordable at their income level. Our area is experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis that is literally pricing people out of their homes. Learn about affordable housing and why it is the answer for both preventing and ending homelessness.
What Is Affordable Housing?
National experts including HUD and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) define housing as affordable when a family pays no more than 30% of their income on rent. Households spending more than 30% of their income on rent experience housing cost-burden and likely struggle to afford other necessities such as food, transportation, and healthcare. These households are at higher risk of becoming homeless.
Affordable housing units, built utilizing grant funds, tax credits and other specialized sources of financing, offer rents below market rates to qualifying households. Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) similarly subsidize a portion of rent to make housing affordable for families with incomes at 50% or less of Area Median Income (currently $98,300 for family of four). Rental assistance programs provide temporary assistance to people at imminent risk of homelessness to keep them housed. Many communities, including Boise, are exploring new approaches to expanding their affordable housing stock, such as incorporating tiny homes and Accessory Dwelling Units in existing neighborhoods.
Does Boise Need Affordable Housing?
The numbers tell a sad story about thousands of Idahoans who are priced out of housing. Some are already experiencing homelessness. Others are living insecurely in housing they can’t afford—after paying rent they can’t pay for other necessities like food, transportation, and healthcare.
Due to overwhelming need, existing affordable rentals in Boise are full and the city’s Housing Choice Voucher waiting list is closed. The city’s Housing Needs Analysis 2021 Report shows that 2,145 affordable rental units must be built each year between 2021 and 2030 to meet current and projected needs. To help accomplish this within its geographic area, the city has approved zoning changes to increase density and improve use of underutilized land.
How can I help?
Speak up to promote affordable housing development! Urge your federal/state/local elected officials to dedicate funds for affordable housing. Ask your city council to approve affordable housing projects or require some affordable units within developments. Encourage property managers you know to accept tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers. Support tenant protection rules to help people avoid becoming homeless. If possible, consider renting a room in your home to a low-income student, senior or other tenant who can’t afford an apartment.
Your voice counts! Keep our community strong by supporting the needs of all community members. Visit Current Alerts and Opportunities – Boise Homeless Coalition (homelesscoalitionboise.com) and Ongoing Opportunities for Advocacy – Boise Homeless Coalition (homelesscoalitionboise.com) to learn more and become an advocate for affordable housing!