While incomes have stagnated over the last two decades for low-income Americans, rents have gone up at an unsustainable pace for most renters.
According to a recent study by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, Milwaukee County has the highest percentage of renter households in the Midwest, more than half of households in the county rented their homes in 2016. The same study showed wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of the of the county’s median rent. Households with the county’s median household income ($2,631) would come up $45 short of paying rent without spending more than 30% of its income on housing.
There is a significant gap in available rental units to meet the demand from low-income renters and it is reflective of the current housing situation in America which exacerbates economic insecurity and underscores racial inequities.
Across the country, hundreds of thousands of Americans are homeless and millions more cannot afford a decent place to live; they are often doubled up with family, struggling with crippling bills, or constantly at risk of eviction. Millions more are on waiting lists that can last years to fulfill housing requests.
The Trump administration has exacerbated these problems and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has continuously worked to further disenfranchise vulnerable communities. HUD Secretary Ben Carson wants to triple the rent that the poorest Americans pay for federally subsidized housing, which would put nearly one million children at risk of homelessness and affect over 700,000 American households. Carson’s proposal would also make it easier to impose work requirements in exchange for housing benefits.
In late January, Mike Bloomberg, candidate for president of the United States released his plan to tackle the Housing and Affordability Crisis that is currently affecting Americans in urban and rural communities across the U.S.
As former mayor of New York City, Bloomberg created the largest affordable housing program in the country and during his tenure street homelessness decreased by 28% and more than 170,000 affordable homes were built or preserved.
During his speech in Washington, D.C. Bloomberg said “Our campaign is releasing the most comprehensive plan any candidate has put forward on affordable housing and homelessness.”
“We will tackle the affordability crisis from every angle: our plan will help ensure that every American can afford to pay rent without facing financial hardships. We will make sure that people who are going through hard times get the assistance they need to avoid eviction and homelessness.”
“We will help people who are homeless get back on their feet and into permanent housing. We will also help more renters become homeowners and we’ll take action to eliminate discrimination in the housing marketplace.”