Across the United States, life for a middle-income earner is becoming more and more complex due to the unavailability of adequate and affordable housing options within the vicinity of their workplaces.
The two factors that play into this are inflation since salaries are not increasing in proportion to daily expenses, and the lack of affordable housing options available as a whole.
This forces workers to buy or rent properties on the outskirts of the city where they dwell and therefore contributes significantly to increased traffic and longer commute times.
Let us explore why affordable workforce housing is so important.
Why Workforce Housing Matters
In accordance to Maxwell Drever, Workforce housing is suitable for households with more than 60% of area median income (AMI) and even higher (up to 150%) in major metropolitan cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.
Despite the availability of subsidies for households that earn less than 60% of AMI, the demand still outweighs the availability by a substantial margin. Such subsidies are not available for those who earn above the minimum limit.
Wages have remained still for the past 20 years, which, combined with increasing rent prices, has cascaded into serious affordability problems for a rising number of individuals.
Most renter households spend the majority of their salaries on rent. This number is still increasing due to more households on rent than those buying homes.
Middle-income earners include teachers, firefighters, electricians, and dental assistants, among others.
It is especially important for those who provide service to the community and aid the local economy to live near their workplaces since less time wasted on the commute can significantly impact the quality of work and productivity.
If their performance improves at work, it positively impacts society. These effects are not easily measured, but they exist. Longer commute times also increase the cost of travel, such as fuel for transportation or even costs of using public transportation.
The land near employment centers usually has very expensive housing options due to significant development costs, which pushes people to the outskirts and makes their daily routine more difficult.
Other benefits of providing affordable workforce housing options include less congestion due to traffic in the city and neighborhoods with diverse family backgrounds, which improves the intermingling of different ethnicities.
Employers struggle less to retain their workforce, and families can stay in one area with less anxiety and struggle for resources.
Workforce housing programs have sprung up across the country, and many aim to encourage the construction of more housing options for the middle-income earners that are less than 120% of AMI.
They also aim to make housing more available for public employees who cannot afford to live near their workplace, Maxwell Drever, the Founder and Chairman of DCM say.
One of their goals is to help County employers fix the issue relating to scarcity of skilled workers by allowing for more housing options that will ultimately improve accessibility to the workplace.