Affordable Housing and Children: a Disproportionate Impact

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34% of AHDC’s population is under 20 years, compared to just 19% in the City of Alexandria as a whole. Further, AHDC’s population of 5-19 year olds – the school age population – is almost triple the rate of the city at large.  AHDC has as many residents under 20 as it does over 40. When we build, plan, and support our residents, we do so knowing full well AHDC’s work has a disproportionate impact on Alexandrian children.

Safe and affordable housing is of critical importance to those in this age group, and the people who are raising them. Stable and safe housing for children has long been recognized as one of the determining factors in their long-term well-being. In 2015-2016, homeless students in Florida missed around 15 days of school a year, compared to 11 for housed students on free/reduced lunches, and 8 for housed students with full price lunches. Low-quality homes contributed to 50% higher chances of an emergency room visit for asthma. Teenagers who live in affordable housing have higher young adult incomes and lower rates of incarceration.

But when the costs of rent and childcare combine, low income families struggle with an array of tough choices. In 2014, the cost of raising a child over 18 years for a middle-income family in the D.C. area was $342,552 – or roughly $19,000/year. (For comparison, 2-BR fair market rent in D.C. is $1,793/month, or $21,516/year.) For lower income families struggling already with rent, childcare costs can create an impossible burden. With a dwindling supply of naturally affordable or subsidized affordable housing in Alexandria, these families may be forced to choose crowded and substandard housing, which while keeping a roof over their heads, can result in long term health and educational consequences. 

AHDC works to combat this problem primarily through the provision and management of affordable homes in the city of Alexandria. Since the year 2000, the supply of naturally occurring affordable housing has decreased by 90%. Rental costs have gone up by 94%, while incomes have only increased by 33%. Against this tide AHDC works to provide housing that is high-quality and ecologically friendly, in addition to preserving existing affordable units threatened by market forces. When families can move into our units, they find stability and rent they can manage, and their children get to remain in place as they grow.

It’s not enough to just support children housing though – AHDC through its work is creating communities of people. To this end, AHDC hosts events for children centered around our community gardens, holiday events, and more. As well, AHDC is implementing a health and wellness program that will provide families of all ages access to fitness centers that provide youth opportunities and childcare.

It’s a privilege to serve Alexandria’s children and families – and one we take seriously. By supporting these kids now, we are making an investment in the future of our city and our region.

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Affordable Housing and Seniors

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After having spent a whole life in a community, investing in its neighborhoods, sending your kids to its schools, working in its shops – it’s natural to want to age in place, and be surrounded by the familiar. There might be more logistical concerns as well, as older adults want to stay near doctors they know, and resources they trust. However, with the rising cost of living and unique concerns of aging, aging in place in Alexandria is a concern for many.

Living on a fixed income as rents rise

The average social security check issued nationwide today totals around $1,400 – with $1,440 in Virginia, and $1,340 in D.C.[1] In 2016, the Social Security Administration calculated that 21% of married recipients and 43% of single recipients over age 65 depended on social security for over 90 percent of their income.[2]

Meanwhile, the Fair Market Rent in the D.C. metro area for a one-bedroom unit (and not one necessarily equipped for senior living) is $1,561. To afford this unit in the traditional sense (by spending less than 30% of one’s income on rent), a single senior bringing in the average Virginia social security check would need to find an additional $3,763/month from other retirement income sources, generous family members, or part-time work.[3]

Social Security income might rise by 1-2% annually, but that can be easily dwarfed by increasing costs of housing, especially in major metro areas. Year-over-year rent went up by 2% nationwide in 2017, but by 3.2% in Fort Worth, TX; 4.7% in Denver, CO; and a whopping 5.8% in Orlando, FL.[4]

(And while other retirement earnings vehicles might be in the picture, it’s not the story for everybody: 42% of seniors indicate a pension plan is not a part of their retirement earnings, and a 401k or similar retirement savings account is not a factor for 38% of seniors.[5])

For seniors looking for greater care from their living spaces, the national median monthly cost of Assisted Living Facilities is $3,750. Medicare will not cover these costs, though Medicaid and VA benefits will.

 

Needs of seniors in retirement age living spaces
Where one ages is critically important, as it has long term effects on the accessibility of care and resources. Units designed with elders in mind feature no-step entrances, lever based faucets, wider hallways for walking aids, single floor living, lower-reach appliances, and more.[6] Access to medical care, transportation, and grocery resources is important, especially as seniors may face losing their driving capabilities, and being able to access community resources, places of worship, and variety of places to visit is vital to well-being. In assisted living facilities, some of these resources are coordinated, but for those wishing to age independently at home it may require more effort.

According to HUD, fewer than 4% of US residential units are accessible for individuals with mobility disabilities, and 44% of households need some type of accessibility modification to use their homes without difficulty.”[7] These modifications for seniors as they age can be costly, even prohibitively so even for those who own their homes outright.

 

Housing affordability is truly a family issue – impacting the well-beings of children, parents, and seniors in unique ways. Increasing our affordable and accessible stock will be imperative as the US population ages upwards.

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[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/social-security-retirement-benefits-by-state-2018-4,

[2] https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/economic-security-facts/

[3] http://nlihc.org/oor/virginia. FMR is $1,561, or $18,732 annually. It takes an income of $62,440 to spend less than 30% of income on this rent. If the average SS check for a single earner in VA is $1,440, or $17,280/year, you need to earn an additional $45,160 to make $62,440, or about $3763/month.

[4] https://dc.curbed.com/2018/6/6/17433776/dc-rentcafe-rent-growth-rate

[5] https://news.gallup.com/poll/234032/social-security-financial-bedrock-retirees.aspx

[6] http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/harvard_jchs_housing_growing_population_2016.pdf

[7] https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/summer17/highlight1.htm

AHDC celebrates The Bloom and Carpenter's Shelter Groundbreaking event

"It takes a village. This is our village." - Governor Northam

On August 29th, 2018, Alexandria Housing Development corporation, along with project partners The Carpenter's Shelter, was thrilled to celebrate the groundbreaking of The Bloom and new Carpenter's Shelter.

Keynote remarks were delivered by Governor Northam and Congressman Beyer, with additional remarks from Mayor Silberberg, Dale Wittie, Director of Rental Housing Development with VHDA, and Joseph DeFelice, Regional Administrator of the Mid-Atlantic region of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Also in attendance were VA Senator Adam Ebbin, Delegate Mark Levine, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, Councilman John Chapman, and Councilman Timothy Lovain.

This groundbreaking marks the start of the construction phase of The Bloom and Carpenter's Shelter, which will build a new, purpose-built homeless shelter and add 97 units of affordable housing to Alexandria. 

 

 

More photos will be added soon! Photos from AHDC/Kyle Reardon

 

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Comparing Two Alexandrias with Opportunity360

Where you live affects your economic, social, and educational outcomes. But even across town, with diminished access to affordable apartments, reduced transit connectivity, and less access to employment, outcomes can look remarkably different even for two people of the same city.

This report was created with data from the Opportunity360 platform, which shows how geographic opportunity is changed with a census-tract level analysis.

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Can Alexandria's employees afford to live here?

The National Low Income Housing Coalition released it's 2018 Out Of Reach report, detailing down to a zip-code level what hourly wage one would need to earn to not spend more than 30% of their income on rent*. As a high cost-of-living area, Alexandrians would need to make $34.48 hourly to afford rent without compromising their monthly budget, which is the second highest housing wage in the nation.

Furthermore, Alexandrians' rents are affected by the economics of the entire D.C. metro region, but their incomes are still subject to the Virginia state-wide minimum wage - meaning that Alexandrians earning Virginia minimum wage would need to somehow find a way to work 190/week to not spend more than 30% of their income on rent. At $15 an hour, it would still take roughly 97 hours a week to afford rent.

Take a look through the images below to see some analysis on what this means in our very local context, and be sure to check out the most recent Out of Reach report to see what the housing story is nationwide.

*Rent is based on the Fair Market Rent, as established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

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