Builders and developers of residential housing in America know that a safe, decent and affordable place to live lays the foundation for a family’s future. But we also know better than anyone that affordable homes across the country have become increasingly difficult for moderate and low-income families to find.
Today, more than 18 million families - one in six - spend half or more of their income on housing. When you’re spending that much on a place to live, you may be forced into making difficult choices like paying rent or covering the cost of food, reliable transportation, or healthcare.
Home prices are increasing but incomes remain flat. As a result, fewer people can afford to buy a new house, or they simply don’t factor buying a house into their long-term plans. At the same time, the rising cost and scarcity of available land; skilled labor shortages; and restrictive building laws and regulations, continue to make affordable homes difficult for builders to produce.
As professional builders and developers, we’re highly attuned to the home affordability challenges that exist in the communities where we live and work. We’re grateful for opportunities that allow us to address the issue head on, like Habitat for Humanity’s Home Builders Blitz, which brings professional home builders, developers and suppliers across the country together to build hundreds of affordable homes in one week. Over the past 17 years, Home Builders Blitz has built affordable housing alongside more than 2,500 families. However, we can and should do more to change the underlying policies and systems that hinder production and access to affordable housing.
Habitat launched a national advocacy campaign to address home affordability earlier this year - Cost of Home - aimed at finding solutions and creating policies that will help 10 million people gain improved access to affordable homes. And the campaign is gaining momentum.
Home Builders Blitz offers one example of the campaign in action. Many of the local Habitat organizations that participated in Home Builders Blitz used the opportunity to connect the professional home building community with home affordability advocates, local elected officials and housing policy leaders. These relationships fuel conversations and collaboration, and drive action toward local and state policy solutions that can help improve housing affordability.
Through Cost of Home, Habitat supporters advocate for policies that enable the production, preservation, and access to homes affordable to lower-income households. Builders and developers have a natural stake in the success of this campaign; many of the policies, systems, and regulations that affect affordable housing intersect with and impact all residential home building and development.
Events like Home Builders Blitz serve to remind us that home isn’t just a building; it’s the community in which you live, work and grow. Cost of Home seeks to protect and strengthen those communities, and put systems in place that will allow them to thrive for many years to come.
As the people who lay the foundation in these communities, we must recognize and support the need for safe, affordable housing. We have a responsibility to advocate for policy solutions that will make the Cost of Home something we can all afford.