Friday, July 08, 2005
Housing: Facing the Facts
I had lunch yesterday with around a dozen men and women who live on the streets of Dallas, when not bunking in a shelter. No way to do that and not think about housing.
People are homeless because we don't have enough housing.
In 2001, ninety-five million people in the U. S. (one third of us) had housing problems (high cost burden, overcrowding, poor quality or homelessness).
Sixty-five million Americans with housing problems are low income as defined by the federal government (household income less than 80% of the area median).
Seventy-eight percent of extremely low-income people (household income at or less than 30% of the area median) have housing problems. This group totals 23 million people.
Here in Dallas County, an extremely low-income household (earning $19,530 or 30% of the median income) can afford monthly rent of no more than $488, while Fair Market Value for a two-bedroom unit is $868.
A minimum wage earner ($5.15 per hour) can afford monthly rent of no more than $268. In Dallas County a minimum wage worker would need to work 130 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market rent.
A person receiving Supplemental Security Income ($564 monthly) can afford monthly rent of no more than $169, though Fair Market rent for a one-bedroom unit is $713.
The so-called "housing wage" here in Dallas stands at $16.69 per hour. That is the amount a 40 hour-a-week wage earner must earn to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area's Fair Market Value.
As rents soar, people at the bottom are pushed out onto the streets. . . literally.
Homelessness is growing.
We don't have enough affordable units for working people who need them.
It is a fact.