A lack of affordable housing affects over 43,100 families in our community, who are paying over 30% of their monthly income for housing. With a lack of affordable housing options and substandard housing conditions in many low-cost rental units, households are forced to move frequently in search of better housing options. This includes individuals like Kelli, a Family Advocate with Guilford Child Development, who is a single parent to daughter Monet. For years, Kelli has paid a significant portion of her salary in rent, unable to qualify for a traditional mortgage due to significant student loans she incurred while pursuing her master’s in social work.
This need is why Habitat Greensboro will take steps over the next three years to significantly increase access to affordable housing in our community significantly. The $1.5 million in funding provided through the City of Greensboro and made available through the City’s American Rescue Plan Act will catalyze Habitat Greensboro’s Building Community Together initiative. Habitat Greensboro will partner with the community to match these funds with an additional $1.5 million to support the construction of 50 safe, stable, and affordable homes in East Greensboro.
Building Community Together, Habitat Greensboro will improve the physical and economic health of 50 Greensboro households and positively impact economic growth through increased housing access. Habitat Greensboro will partner with individuals and families to build 50 new housing units (single-family and townhomes) in East Greensboro. Once these homes are constructed, Habitat Greensboro will provide a path to homeownership by providing below-market-rate mortgages targeted to families earning between 40 to 80% of area median income (AMI). Habitat Greensboro will also provide homeownership education and training support to ensure these households can thrive as homeowners. In total, this project represents $10,706,750 in local investment.
When individuals become Habitat Greensboro homeowners, they are guaranteed to pay no more than 30% of their income on housing. Habitat Greensboro homes are built with low-maintenance exteriors to reduce long-term maintenance expenses and to SystemsVision energy-efficient standards to reduce utility costs. By reducing the amount of income spent on housing, economic health improves. Households then have more money to invest in other areas, including healthy food, medical expenses, savings, or continuing education. Investing in these other areas can lead to improvements in physical health and economic health.
Key to improved economic health is educational attainment. Numerous studies have linked stable, affordable housing with educational achievement. Moving from one rental to another can disrupt a child’s education, particularly if they switch schools. This can lead to significant learning gaps. By ensuring stable housing, children’s schooling is consistent. A child’s future changes significantly when they are provided with stable housing, as they are more likely to graduate high school and pursue higher education.
H’Po Ramh recently shared the impact of her family’s Habitat home. “My parents have always stressed the importance of education to us, and having a house built with Habitat has allowed everyone in the family to focus on their educational goals and achieve something new.” H’Po pursued a degree in early childhood education and Spanish at Western Carolina University. Her goal to inspire young children is now a reality as she teaches fourth grade at Cone Elementary.
Affordable housing impacts not only grade school achievements but also creates opportunities for secondary education. By increasing access to affordable housing, households can reduce their cost burden, freeing income to spend on education and increasing their future earnings potential. Access to affordable housing impacts the current generation and their children. Stanford economist Raj Chetty found that children whose parents obtained affordable housing obtained earnings as adults more than 30% higher than their peers.
In addition to impacting the individual worker, the availability of affordable housing also has a tremendous impact on economic growth within a community, as housing stock impacts the decision of companies to move into an area. Studies by the Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, and National Bureau of Economic Research have shown that access to affordable housing impacts employees’ quality of life, productivity, and turnover, particularly for low-income positions. Without access to affordable housing, employees are forced to move outside of urban areas in search of lower-cost housing. This increases commute times and travel costs, reducing limited discretionary income and increasing wear on road infrastructure. With limited affordable housing, there is also a smaller pool of low-income workers from which companies can hire, leading to potential labor shortages.
Over the past 35 years, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro, Inc., has partnered with more than 500 families to achieve their dreams of homeownership by building safe, stable, and affordable housing. We look forward to working in partnership to expand these efforts.