May is Affordable Housing Month, and it’s a great opportunity for our community to collectively advocate for affordable housing for everyone!
Businesses need employees and customers, schools need teachers and students, restaurants need cooks and patrons. In an economically sustainable community, there are enough people for each of these roles. Yet, we cannot remain a healthy and stable community without adequate affordable housing. As it currently stands, more than half of all Larimer County renters [56%] are cost-burdened, spending more than 30% or more of their income on housing costs, and 27% are severely burdened, spending over half of their income on housing costs (source).
This is not news for the growing number of individuals and families now struggling with rapidly rising housing costs that are outpacing income growth. According to a Larimer County report, from 2010 to 2018, the median rent in Larimer County increased by 45%. Now, consider that a Larimer County renter earning the mean renter wage of $15.82 is able to afford up to $823 in rent and utilities, yet the fair market for a 1 bedroom rental alone is $1,096.¹ Or consider that an individual earning minimum wage would need to clock 68 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment.² (source¹ ²)
The national Out of Reach 2021 report indicates that the problem isn’t just local, and minimum wage earners are not the only workers struggling to make ends meet. At the national level, the two-bedroom housing wage of $24.90 is unaffordable for nearly 60% of all wage and salary workers. The national median hourly wage of $21.22 is barely sufficient to afford a one-bedroom apartment, and almost half of all workers earn less than that. The national average renter’s wage of $18.78 per hour, is less than the national one-bedroom housing wage.
So, were do we begin?
The term ‘affordable housing’ has become somewhat of a dirty word, used by some groups to undermine development projects by inciting fears about what they will “do” to current residents. Yet, with knowledge about our growing housing shortages and how this impacts the quality of life for all residents, we are better prepared to speak and advocate on behalf of all our neighbors.
The county’s recent Affordable Housing Needs Assessment is a helpful tool for exploring existing needs and gaps in our community. You can also dive into the County’s strategic plan, which includes an objective to reduce the housing overburdened ratio by at least 5% by 2023. By following the county’s actions and activities, you can find ways to participate or advocate when opportunities arise.
Supporting N2N’s programs, at any level, is one powerful way to make a local impact. When we help our neighbors overcome unexpected expenses and allow them to remain or become safely housed, we have an immediate and lasting impact on the economic health and vitality of our community. A recently homeless mother had this to say about how N2N’s helped her family:
“N2N’s help with move-in assistance made it possible for me and my children to move into our home after being homeless and staying with family for over a year. It was such a huge and priceless blessing.” -Jessica
Finally, you can join us on our social platforms to stay informed and raise awareness by sharing with your friend groups when you feel inspired!