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Lack of Affordable HUD Housing in the Denver/Aurora Area


Lackof Affordable HUD Housing in the Denver/Aurora Area


DR.Brandon Williams



Thesupply of affordable homes and apartments, especially to the low andmiddle-income families, is continuously shrinking in theDenver/Aurora area. The construction industry is concentrating onsetting up houses that are expensive to buy or even rent due to thestagnant low income. Notably, many senior residents go throughhardships after retirement since they retire with low savings. TheDenver/Aurora area faces a shortage of low-cost available houses,physically accessible features and well-situated residence especiallyfor the low-income seniors. Consequently, the demand has gone to thelow end due to unaffordability. If the government, through thehousing department could wholly understand the link between housingavailability and affordability and economic development, necessarymeasures would be in place to curb the problem. Gloomily, thegovernment is not well prepared to confront the rising needs andchallenges affiliated with housing.

Thisresearch was conducted with the aim of determining the housingchallenges in the Denver/Aurora area for low-income familiesespecially the senior residents. Furthermore, to establish the extentof the housing challenges and the steps being taken by the governmentto contain the crisis. The research was conducted using researcharchives and through conducting an interview for concrete results.From the research, the majority of the families in this area spendmore on rent and mortgage payment and are left with little to spendon food, health services, and recreation. Significantly, the researchwas conducted to bring out a clear picture of the housing crisis andgive a view of the measures being taken to address the issue.

Homelessnessis a devastating problem affecting individuals and families in theDenver/Aurora area. “The Denver metropolitan is currently the mostexpensive housing market in the country”.1Sleeping outside, in a bus station, in abandoned old houses, or onpark benches is not a healthy and safe lifestyle for young childrento the senior individuals. Notably, with the help of organizationssuch as the government and non-profit organizations, the homeless canbe transformed to being homeowners and more so reclaim the Americandream. Due to the aging of the baby boomer generation, the seniorpopulation of the Denver area is anticipated to reach 30,000 by 2020.Consequently, there will be increased demand for affordable housingfor the seniors. Furthermore, financial assistance for home repairand rehabilitation will become increasingly important.

Thehousehold income is the chief factor in gauging housingaffordability. In the housing industry, and according to the Housingand Urban Department (HUD), housing affordability is measured interms of the proportion of household income that is used to payhousing cost. The housing crisis for the low- and moderate-incomeresidents can only be tackled if the state and local governmentsprioritizes on improving the supply of existing and new affordablerental housing. The rental housing provides accommodation to threegroups of residents for future homeowners till they are in aposition to buy their own home. They also provide housing forindividuals or families with low income and may never afford homeownership and instead will rely permanently on rental housing.Additionally, the rental housing is important to residents affectedby the financial downturn.

Thecosts of renting a house or even owning one are very high and areexpected increase further. “The present-day housing crisis has beencreated by factors such as a decrease in federal housing funds, anincrease in the number of poor families, a stagnant family income anda shortage of affordable houses”2.An estimated 33 percent of seniors above 50 years spend more than 30percent of their income on housing. Consequently, they are left withlittle to spend on other needs such as food, clothing, recreation,transportation and healthcare. Every senior resident wishes to remainand age in the right place their homes. “Lack of safe and healthyhousing leads to reduced life and an increase in cases ofhomelessness”3For those who are lucky to be living in their homes, most live inremote places and do not have money or access to public transport.“Majorityof the seniors live in car-dependent suburbs and rural areas and veryfew of them have access to public transit”4.According to a Harvard study, the majority of rental apartments andhomes were found to lack basic accessibility features for safe andcomfortable aging for the seniors especially the disabled.

TheDenver/Aurora area is not land constrained, hence, the availablespace has been used to build more affordable houses for theincreasing low-income residents. This has been achieved by the localgovernment partnering with potential housing development agencies tobuild subsidized houses. Also, several programs have been started tocurb the crisis. For example, ‘home of our own’ is a programwhich was started to provide assistance to Aurora residents living inmotel/hotels, and mobile homes planned for demolition. [email protected] is a plan approved in the year 2012 by the city council.This plan focuses on helping the displaced families and those at riskof losing their primary residential place. Furthermore, the Denver’sRoad Home is an organization formed in 2005 to coordinate thecommunity in solving the housing crisis. Since then, the organizationhas spent 72.3 million dollars to hire outreach workers, openshelters, and in program expansion. Notably, “organizations stand abetter chance of addressing homelessness via attracting support frompowerful community members or by threatening to embarrass them ifneed be”5.

Inthe next 15 years, an estimated one in every five Americans will beabove 65 years and those above 80 years and above are stipulated tobe 28 million by 2040. Over the past year, home values have risen by6.5 percent while rents have risen up by 2.8 percent. Approximately216,000 households in Colorado with an income of 20,000 dollars orless are purportedly looking for affordable housing. “Homelessnessis caused by growth in demand for low-cost housing while the supplyis limited”6.

Therental market in the Denver Metropolitan area is escalating. With abig number of the residents earning less than 20,000 dollars in ayear, this increase in rent is bound to weigh on them. Resultantly,they are forced to spend less or even sacrifice necessities such astransportation and health services. “Most families spend a bigportion of their income on rent and are resultantly left with littleto cater for food, clothing and other needs”7.For housing to be considered affordable, income spent on rent shouldbe 30 percent and below. When individuals or families spend more than30 percent, they are considered as cost burdened. The majorchallenges which need to be tackled to overcome the homelessnesscrisis are poverty, unemployment, and expensive housing. To tacklethese challenges “the homeless can intensify their legislative gripby uniting with the sheltered advocates in pro- homeless socialdevelopment organizations”8.

“Thevaried magnitude of natural and man-made disasters such as fire andfloods have for a long time lead to the destruction ofinfrastructure, commercial property, and housing”9.Reaction to these disasters varies in different countries dependingon wealth, population and culture. For instance “extreme poverty isa factor highly associated with housing hardships”10.Anexample of these disasters is Hurricane Katrina which occurred in2005. After a disaster, temporary emergency housing is commonly thefirst and most convenient response. Notably, rental houses are poorlyconstructed than owner-occupied, hence, they are more prone todestruction when a disaster occurs. Resultantly, low-income familieswho are the major inhabitants of rental houses end up being homeless.On disaster response, “homeowners, who are wealthy individuals areable to replace their homes quickly and avoid extendedhomelessness”11.Destruction of rental houses results to an increase in demandcountered by a low supply.

Affordablehousing is typically described as spending 30 percent or less ofone`s income on housing and utilities. In 2010, 51 percent of theDenver/Aurora households had incomes of less than 20,000 dollars peryear. Apparently, 24 % of the families used more than 50 % of theirearnings on housing while 40 % used more than 30 %. Although morejobs have been created as a measure to reduce the housing crisis, theincome has failed to keep up with the increasing housing prices.Creation of affordable housing, employment, funding of the housingagencies and an increase in income can benefit both the governmentand the community. Ostensibly, the government in coordination withthe Urban Development together with the Health and Human Serviceshave provided funds to 13 housing agencies to build subsidized rentalhouses for the extremely low-income families especially those withdisabilities. Notably, taking these measures will enable individualsto pay their tax revenues, poverty will be reduced and the rate ofmortality will be reduced especially for the senior residents.

Inconclusion, homelessness entails a lack of affordable housing. It iscaused by factors such as poverty, unemployment, low-income anddisasters such as floods, hurricanes, and fire. Extreme housing costhas burdened families and individuals in Denver/Aurora area. About600,000 of households in the general Colorado area earn 20,000dollars in a year. More of this income is spent on rent and utilitieswhile little is left to spend on necessities such as food, clothing,and healthcare. The state and local government have formulatedseveral strategies to respond to the homelessness crisis. Theyinclude reducing quality, self-help, simplification, and subsidy.When the government sets on organizing for post-disaster housing, itis important to build houses that are affordable, sustainable and canadapt disaster situations.

Mostsenior residents and the disabled do not have access to resourcessuch as health centers and recreation facilities. The solution tothis problem is by building affordable rental houses in the vicinityof these facilities or to generally reduce the housing cost to enablethese individuals to afford transportation cost to access thefacilities. Additionally, the state and local governments can work toexpand the car services such as Uber to enable the seniors and thecarless to age in place.


&quotAffordableHousing Challenges In Colorado&quot. 2015.&nbspNAIOPMarket Share Blog.http://blog.naiop.org/2015/07/affordable-housing-challenges-in-colorado/.

Eisenberg,Richard. 2016. &quotForbes Welcome&quot.&nbspForbes.Com.http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/09/02/the-next-housing-crisis-aging-americans-homes/#5ab7a6b55a2b.

Lee,Barrett A., Kimberly A. Tyler, and James D. Wright. &quotThe newhomelessness revisited.&quot&nbspAnnualreview of sociology&nbsp36(2010): 501.

McIntosh,Jacqueline. 2013. &quotThe Implications of Post Disaster Recoveryfor Affordable Housing&quot.&nbspApproachesto Disaster Management – Examining the Implications of Hazards,Emergencies and Disasters.doi:10.5772/55273.

Mihaly,Lisa. &quotBeyond the numbers: Homeless families with children.&quotHomelesschildren and youth: A new American dilemma&nbsp(1991):11-32.

1 &quotAffordable Housing Challenges in Colorado&quot. 2015.&nbspNAIOP Market Share

2 Lisa Mihaly, Beyond the numbers: Homeless families with children, p. 20.

3 Barret A. Lee, Tyler A. Kimberly, and Wright D. James. The new homelessness revisited, 501.

4 Richard Eisenberg. 2016. &quotThe Next Housing Crisis: Aging Americans’ Homes&quot.

5 Barret A. Lee, Tyler A. Kimberly, and Wright D. James. The new homelessness revisited, 501.

6 Ibid, 501

7 Lisa Mihaly, Beyond the numbers: Homeless families with children, p. 21

8 Barret A. Lee, Tyler A. Kimberly, and Wright D. James. The new homelessness revisited, 501.

9 Jacqueline McIntosh. 2013. &quotThe Implications of Post Disaster Recovery for Affordable Housing&quot

10 Ibid, 501

11 Ibid, 501