New Report from PAHRC and NLIHC Highlights Preservation Risks Threatening Affordable Homes: Expiring Subsidies, Physical Deterioration, and Insufficient Funding

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A joint report explores strategies to address significant affordable housing preservation risks

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We hope local planners, policymakers, and housing professionals will use these data and the findings from this report to inform their local housing preservation plans.

The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released the inaugural 2020 Picture of Preservation report. This new report explores the pivotal role the federal government plays in building and preserving affordable rental housing at a time when millions of Americans are facing housing instability during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even before the pandemic, the United States faced a shortage of seven million rental homes that were affordable and available to the lowest-income renter households. The report finds that just 4.9 million rental homes are subsidized through federal project-based subsidies to serve low-income households, representing a mere 10% of the entire rental housing stock. Nearly two-thirds of these homes (64%) are more than 20 years old.

Many of these homes are at-risk of being lost from the affordable housing stock through the expiration of affordability requirements, deteriorating physical conditions, and inadequate federal funding. The report finds that affordability restrictions are set to expire for 299,303 publicly supported homes in the next five years. Fifty-eight percent of these homes demonstrate two or more known risk factors, including no capital subsidies in the past 20 years, for-profit ownership, construction more than 45 years ago, and failing inspection scores.

NLIHC and PAHRC used information from the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD) and other sources to compile the findings in the report. “We hope local planners, policymakers, and housing professionals will use these data and the findings from this report to inform their local housing preservation plans,” said PAHRC Director of Research and Industry Intelligence Keely Stater.

Preserving the existing supply of affordable housing limits the loss of difficult-to-replace housing in desirable neighborhoods, mitigates further disinvestment from distressed communities, and prevents the further decline of the already limited federally subsidized housing stock. Preservation also provides an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money through energy retrofitting. Most importantly, preserving existing affordable housing limits displacement and improves housing quality for current tenants.

Given limited resources, communities often struggle to meet their preservation needs while still building new affordable homes. The report concludes that the preservation of federally assisted rental housing requires an increase in funding for the national Housing Trust Fund, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program, and the public housing capital fund. “Given the importance of affordable housing to families’ well-being and to public health, there is an urgent need for significant federal investments in programs that preserve existing affordable homes,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. Affordable housing preservation must also be supported by policies that promote long-term affordability, such as incentivizing or requiring owners to agree to longer affordable periods and by adopting first right of refusal if an owner wishes to sell.

PAHRC and NLIHC received support from Fannie Mae to fund this year’s Picture of Preservation report.

2020 Picture of Preservation is available here.

Statewide preservation profiles are available here.

About the National Low Income Housing Coalition
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. NLIHC educates, organizes, and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing for everyone. For more information about NLIHC, please visit http://www.nlihc.org.

About The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation
The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) is a non-profit research center dedicated to conducting research that promotes the national conversation about the importance of affordable housing. PAHRC spotlights the impact, outcomes, and value affordable housing brings to the families it serves and to the communities it supports, delivering data and tools that assist researchers, practitioners, and advocates to build an evidence-based case for why affordable housing matters. For more information about PAHRC, please visit http://www.pahrc.org.

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