Affordable for Whom
As a human right, housing must be habitable, accessible, culturally adequate, healthy, proximate to what we need, secure from forced eviction and affordable.
Affordability means we pay no more than one-third of our monthly income. But that is impossible for most of those with extremely low income (ELI) — from 0-30% of Area Median Income (AMI). Seven out of ten of the 10.8 million renter households in that sector pay more than half of their incomes on rent, and for each 100 ELI renters, only 37 affordable and available homes exist. These households are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, or persons of color.
Yet, many housing programs or projects that are called “affordable” are targeted to those at higher income levels or above.
In August 2019, we and over 200 activists from across the country called out those programs in the first “Affordable for Whom?” national conference. Sponsored by the Right to the City Alliance, New Economy Project, New York City Community Land Initiative and Partners for Dignity and Rights, participants spent two days sharing, discussing, and planning how community- controlled housing– rental, cooperative and homeownership housing on community owned land–could become more affordable to those who need it most.
From that came Creating Community Controlled, Deeply Affordable Housing: A Resource Toolkit for Community Activists & Allied Community-Based Housing Developers, published in Spring 2021. The toolkit featured in depth case studies of ten projects where community controlled housing reached ELI households, and where political mobilization had created new policy pathways to it.
This was followed in September 2021 with an Affordable for Whom Electronic Summit where Community controlled developers and activists shared their experiences on-line. Follow-up surveys indicated interest in further summits on deeply affordable housing creation, maintenance, and policy. Sign up here for Affordable for Whom updates, gatherings, and related information.