Housing instability encompasses a number of challenges, such as having trouble paying rent, overcrowding, moving frequently, or spending the bulk of household income on housing.
Over 3.7 million people lived in doubled-up households in 2019, including an estimated 2.2 million renters, a recent report analyzing American Community Survey data found, exposing an often-hidden but widespread crisis in housing. “Doubling up,” or living with others because of economic hardship or housing loss, can lead to overcrowded living conditions, place undue strain on personal or familial relationships, and hinder kids’ performance in school. Rising rents in recent months have likely increased the strain on renters.
KACS is developing a systemic approach to providing homes that treat housing not as a commodity, but as a human right. Across Chester County and beyond, the rising cost of renting and buying a home has placed tremendous burdens on our neighbors in communities throughout the region. KACS hopes to be part of a collaboration across the region, seeking a unified vision, goals, and set of strategies to better rise to this challenge.
The lack of affordable housing stems from the contradictory demands for real estate as a commodity and housing as a social good. For housing activists around the country, the appeal of affordable housing is its promise to “decommodify” housing—that is, to shield housing costs and access from the private market.
As stated by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), “Housing is the key to reducing intergenerational poverty and increasing economic mobility. Research shows that increasing access to affordable housing is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing childhood poverty and increasing economic mobility in the United States.
Each community has its own specific challenges in response to housing. In Chester County, houses can’t be built fast enough. Our population is growing, and there’s a diminishing supply of housing, along with land constraints.
At the same time, there’s a shortage of construction workers, which means building costs are rising. And incomes aren’t keeping pace with rising rents and home values, sometimes 5-10% annually.
Affordable housing means an available supply of housing at every income level.