Impact of Housing Programs
Interested in making an impact through affordable and safe housing? Here are a few tCI programs in need of support:
One in six Americans is without an adequate, affordable home. Adequate housing is defined by healthy living conditions; affordable housing is defined by an expenditure on rent or mortgage that does not exceed 30% of the household’s annual income. Yet nearly 20 million households in our country live with severe housing-cost burdens, spending well over 50% of their income on a place to live. This harsh reality undermines the safety, stability, and nurturing potential of a home for these families.
To remain healthy, an average home requires nearly a hundred maintenance items annually, ranging from changing batteries in smoke detectors to roof repairs to eliminate leaks and structural damage. A home’s living conditions deteriorate when a family cannot afford home maintenance after prioritizing food and other more immediate needs. As a result, millions of American families are exposed to sub-standard living conditions and health risks in their own homes. This reality puts families—children in particular—at risk for a number of illnesses, ranging from mild to chronic, such as asthma and lead or asbestos poisoning. In addition, the frequency and severity of injuries from accidents in a home increase as the condition of the structure deteriorates.
Adequate housing is a basic human right, but rather than focusing on adequate housing, families in high-poverty neighborhoods must struggle to find affordable housing. These families are burdened by their severe housing costs relative to their total income. Healthy and safe housing is, for them, an unattainable luxury. Nearly 65% of these at-risk families include children, elderly, or disabled members.
The pressures of unaffordable housing create a cycle of negative effects for individuals across generations, families, and communities. Overcrowding is a common problem among these households, as extended families try to lessen the financial burden of housing costs. Overcrowding—compounded by the stresses of working long days or multiple jobs for a collective income at or below the poverty level—often creates emotional difficulties in the family. Too often a lack of adult supervision, the absence of healthy stress-coping strategies, and high levels of household tension create a toxic environment for childhood and teenage development. This mix usually condemns the 14 million children in at-risk households to lower educational achievement, antisocial behaviors (bullying, vandalism, drug use), and greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults.
Adequate and affordable housing is an essential component in maintaining healthy households, strengthening communities, establishing bonds among neighbors, creating the expectation for effective schools, and building healthy business districts. The needs, though, are greater than what the federal, state, and local governments are able to address. And many at-risk families don’t use these programs because they are confused about eligibility, embarrassed about receiving benefits, and have had negative or fearful experiences with government agencies. Trusted local religious leaders like the Claretians are uniquely positioned to improve existing housing and establish additional housing in the at-risk neighborhoods where they already work and live.
Read more about tCI's impact through safe and affordable housing programs on our Impact Blog.