Housing Choice

Everyone needs housing — a place to live, a place to call home. Housing is one of our most basic human needs. But the realization of safe, decent, affordable housing is becoming increasingly difficult for more and more individuals and families. Recent studies show that some 95 million United States residents are facing severe housing cost burden or are living in crowded or inadequate conditions.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently found that in order to afford a market-rate two-bedroom rental unit without spending more than 30 percent of annual income, a full-time worker would need to make $15.21 per hour. The federal minimum wage in the United States is $5.15. The problem is so severe that the 2002 final report of the congressionally appointed Millennial Housing Commission identified affordability as "the single greatest housing challenge facing the nation."

With that challenge in mind, and with support from the Fannie Mae Foundation, APA embarked on a series of scoping sessions during Fall 2004. The purpose of the Housing Choice Scoping Sessions was to get in tune with real world affordable housing problems and opportunities throughout the country. The scoping sessions were held in conjunction with APA chapter conferences in six regions of the country.

Common Themes

Throughout the six Housing Choice Scoping Sessions, attendees provided a wealth of knowledge. Not surprisingly, each discussion yielded a number of popular subjects or themes. Fifty general themes were identified ranging in subject matter from aging housing stock to jobs-housing balance to tax credits. More than half of the identified themes were discussed at three or more of the scoping sessions.

The top 10 most discussed themes were:

  1. NIMBY
  2. Service Gap for the Very Low-Income
  3. Change in Household Composition
  4. Education, Training and Capacity Building
  5. Impact of Federal Programs
  6. Impact of the Local/Regional Tax Structure
  7. Inadequate State Funding for Housing
  8. Lack of Support at State Legislative Level
  9. Use of Tax Credits
  10. Wage/Cost of Living Imbalance

List of the 50 themes and comments (pdf)

Housing Choice Themes By Session (pdf)

Housing Choice Scoping Sessions Participant Questionnaire (pdf)

Fannie Mae FoundationThis project was funded by the Fannie Mae Foundation in order to explore the state of affordable housing planning practice in the United States.