The Impact of Affordable Housing

AffordableHousingAffordable housing will be an increasingly important topic, not only in the next few years, but as Davis continues to figure out its future.

A recently released report from the non-profit Enterprise Community Partners, whose work seeks to end housing insecurity, lays out critical findings on the impact of stable and affordable housing on families and communities.

“Enterprise believes stable and affordable housing is one of the most important determinants of a healthy life filled with opportunity,” said Tiffany Manuel, VP of knowledge, impact and strategy at Enterprise. “The research is increasingly clear that a place to call home is vital to national progress across sectors, from health and education to our economy and neighborhoods. It’s essential to increase investment in innovations, products, and programs that tackle critical housing issues.”

The executive summary of their 20 page report lays out some interesting food for thought as we move forward with a discussion of affordable housing in this community.

Affordable Housing & Household Stability: “Nearly 19 million U.S. households pay over half their income on housing, and hundreds of thousands more have no home at all. Access to decent, affordable housing would provide critical stability for these families, and lower the risk that vulnerable families become homeless.”

Affordable Housing & Economic Security: “High housing costs leave low-income families with little left over for other important expenses, leading to difficult budget trade-offs. Affordable housing increases the amount that families can put toward other important household needs and savings for the future.”

Housing Stability & Education: “Housing instability can seriously jeopardize children’s performance and success in school, and contribute to long-lasting achievement gaps. Quality affordable housing helps create a stable environment for children, contributing to improved educational outcomes.”

Housing Stability & Health: “Housing instability and homelessness have serious negative impacts on child and adult health. Affordable housing can improve health by providing stability, freeing up resources for food and health care and increasing access to amenities in quality neighborhoods.”

Healthy Housing & Asthma: “Green improvements to affordable housing can improve the health outcomes of low-income families – particularly children at risk for asthma. This, in turn, can contribute to better school performance by reducing asthma symptoms and missed school days.”

Energy Efficiency Improvements: “Energy efficient improvements reduce the long-term operating costs of subsidized multifamily buildings. This helps to stabilize the portfolios of affordable housing providers, preserve the affordable rental housing stock and protect tenants from instability.”

Transportation Costs & Access: “The proportion of household budget that goes towards paying for housing and transportation has risen dramatically over the last decade, leaving families with less money for other necessities. In addition, most cities lack well-planned transit access for low-income communities. Affordable housing located near public mass transit can help low-income residents save money, access better jobs, improve health and reach critical community services.”

Neighborhood Quality: “Affordable housing contributes to significant economic impacts, including increases in local purchasing power, job creation and new tax revenues. Affordable housing has been shown to have a neutral or positive effect on surrounding property values.”

Affordable Housing for Seniors: “The number of homeless and unstably housed seniors is projected to grow, creating serious health consequences as they often face declining incomes, increased medical costs and housing that may not be designed for their needs. Quality affordable housing may promote better mental and physical health, improved quality of life and independence for low-income seniors.”

The issue of Affordable Housing will be of increasing importance, and next week, on August 6 in Davis, will be the Yolo Regional Affordable Housing Forum, which will take place from 9am to 1 pm at New Harmony, located at 3030 Cowell Blvd.

The event is free and is sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Sacramento Housing Alliance and the UC Davis Center For Regional Change.

According to a release, the forum will examine how affordable housing is one of the foundations of healthy communities. Representatives of community developers, small business owners and health care providers will be invited to discuss affordable housing issues related to improving health outcomes throughout the greater Yolo region. The goal is to increase awareness of why pursuing decent, safe, accessible, healthy and affordable housing will help cities meet their healthy community goals.

Speakers will include Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor; Lisa Baker, executive director of the Yolo Housing Authority; Jonathon London of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change; Andrea Papanastassiou of the Northern California Community Loan Fund; Rich Gross of Enterprise Community Partners; Cathy Creswell, former director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development; Rachel Iskow of Mutual Housing California, the developers of New Harmony; Shamus Roller of Housing California; Leilani Barnett of the Federal Reserve Bank; and Darryl Rutherford of the Sacramento Housing Alliance.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Frankly

    I think most people agree that we need more affordable housing. The challenge is deciding how we provide more affordable housing. Governor Browns’s killing of RDAs certainly has not helped. But it fits the profile of the extreme irony of a political class that makes the most noise about the need for affordable housing while also demanding and enacting government policy that both increases the cost of housing and prevents remedies.

    1. Davis Progressive

      the death of rda means we have to figure out another funding mechanism. the city has attempted to latch them onto development by requiring a certain number of adu’s which neither assures access to the housing nor low income access. it will be interesting to see what alternative comes forward from the affordable housing community.

      1. Davis Progressive

        honestly i’m not sure how you can quantify that. after all there is a huge variance within california in cost and the biggest correlate is location. targeting regulation seems like a strawman in comparison to supply and demand.

    2. D.D.

      Dear Frankly
      Why do you think our governor killed RDA’s? I’ve heard several rumors but I don’t know the truth. I also heard that a gentleman in Davis was very involved. Again, the Davis rumor mill. Nothing else….

      1. Don Shor

        My opinion: to shift property tax money back to schools and other agencies. Conservatives will tell you it was ‘payback’ to the teachers’ union, or something.
        Here’s a great essay on the topic:
        RDA’s were crony capitalism at its worst, had long since outlived their stated purpose (blight), and allowed local governments to run roughshod over property owners. I’m always surprised when conservatives express even the slightest hint of support for RDA’s.
        If you want to see the excesses and abuses, look to the history of redevelopment in Woodland.

  2. D.D.

    A component of Davis affordable housing is rental houses that are not in disrepair, and honest owners who will refund a deposit when the home is left in identical condition as when the renter arrives.
    Some folks shy away from renting in Davis for this reason.
    Another component would be two year leases. Owners want to raise the rent annually, so it makes it difficult for middle income families to budget their living expenses.

  3. D.D.

    “This, in turn, can contribute to better school performance by reducing asthma symptoms and missed school days.”

    I’m not sure there is a timely remedy when landlords rent a home with black mold on the floor boards, or mildew in a shower stall.

      1. D.D.

        If you suffered allergies, really bad allergies, you’d understand that a home should be rented to someone in clean, liveable condition. Mildew and mold in a bathroom is unhealthy, especially when the renter has allergies.

  4. Alan Miller

    I oppose affordable housing for the same reason I am against the minimum wage; alteration of the economic curves in the theory of helping the poor, with the outcome being a gap in the curve that falls smack between the working poor and the lower middle class, who take it in the shins. I am amazed that self-proclaimed “conservatives” do not even see this. There are some things that the government pretty much has to do, such as military and much infrastructure. Subsidizing housing and redevelopment and force-skewing wages is not to the ultimate benefit of society, but creates a gap in the economic curves right at the point between where someone is taking government aid and where they are starting in a low-end job. This makes the attractiveness of making the jump to self-sufficiency rather low, thus keeping people trapped on the government dole. The market will take care of housing if we let it, skewed somewhat in Davis as those not able to afford commute from nearby towns. As well, much low-income housing also puts money in the pockets of the developers who know how to play the subsidy game, further redistributing wealth to the benefit of few. This “affordable housing” insanity has become so ingrained in our culture that it is probably intractable. If I run conservative on this beyond even the declared Davis conservatives, there is no hope. What I think is really happening here is that it is so ingrained in how we build our cities that the conservatives are just accepting it as a “well, we need to get ours” mentality. I understand this, but we should never lose site of what all this subsidy really does. The only place I’ve heard of a sane argument for affordable housing was in Vail, CO, where everything is high-end, but the service population for winter who couldn’t afford to live there had to drive tens-of-miles on treacherous winter roads daily to reach their job from where they could afford to live.

    1. Frankly

      Here is my “conservative view”.

      The alteration of the housing economic curve has already happened with several government moves. So we will require government intervention to reverse the curve. But since that would be too disruptive to the economy if done all at once, we need government intervention to help fill the gap until we get back to housing equilibrium.

      Up until late 1990, rental costs and wages were pretty much on par. But after the tech stock bubble popped, wages plunged while rentals skyrocketed. The reasons are mostly due to government policies that meddled in the housing and financial markets in a way that exploded the amount of investment of capital going to real estate… driving up demand and price and hence the cost of rents.

      I am not in favor of government intervention in any market unless government has already screwed it up so bad that it cannot repair itself without a big reset hit to the economy.

    2. D.D.

      “I am against the minimum wage; alteration of the economic curves in the theory of helping the poor, with the outcome being a gap in the curve that falls smack between the working poor and the lower middle class,…”

      Why would you think that raising the minimum wage to a living wage will hurt the lower middle class?
      Obviously, a single person in Davis making the minimum wage has a hard time finding affordable housing. Why will the working poor and the lower middle class suffer if they are fairly compensated for working 40 hours a week? You seem to think they do not deserve a living wage.

      1. D.D.

        Oh, wait. Re-reading your post. It seems like you are opposed to ANY minimum wage. Still confusing. I don’t understand how that position helps the working poor.

    3. D.D.

      So every taxpayer in Vail has to pay for the ultra rich to enjoy their skiing?
      Does every taxpayer in a city filled with golf courses have to pay for the low income folks who work at the golf course?
      Davis is a town that is mainly built around the university. So, with your argument, minimum wage earnrs who support the university’s functions should be granted affordable housing.
      Oh no, wait. You think they should ride the bus to West Sac or Woodland after working eight or more hours a day at approximately $8 an hour.

      1. Tia Will


        I am genuinely curious about how you construct your list of the things that a “government pretty much has to do” ? I believe us to both be reasonable people and yet, I suspect that our two lists of what the government “has to do” would be quite different.

        1. D.D.

          It really was fascinating to me, Tia. I wasn’t being sarcastic as Alan thought. Interesting that the very first thing Alan mentioned was our military.
          This discussion reminds me of a televised political debate in 2002. The Democratic candidates were asked, “What is more important, national security, or humanity?”
          Dennis Kucinich was the only one who answered “humanity”. All the others chose national security. I guess that’s why Alan’s first mention was our military. I’m not saying our military isn’t necessary. But humanitarian efforts are more important. Feeding and sheltering the most vulnerable among us, and providing them with medical care, etc. is crucial. (That seems more important than protecting our borders from all those dangerous 9 year old Guatemalan kids. They’re a pretty scary bunch…)

        1. D.D.

          BP. Why bother? You are implying that you also do not want to bother coming up with an intelligent reply when I post specific exaples of social programs that are working well.
          I challenge you to bother yourself with some real examples. Documentary evidence.

          1. Barack Palin

            Sheeeeeesh. Sitting here shaking my head, Don’t worry, I won’t bother trying to explain it to you again.

      2. D.D.

        “Daily Disrupter”
        A good name for a metal band. Or a blog. Yeah, I kinda like that & I’m stealing it from you.
        Thanks for the nice gift. I love it.

  5. D.D.

    Some people think our military costs are a justified reason for taxes, but programs like W.I.C. or Food Stamps or free childcare might not be as important.
    If you don’t provide food to children five and under, you will be paying for increased social services in other ways. The infant mortality rate will skyrocket. (California infant mortality studies of non-wic medicair babies vs. wic babies prove that W.I.C. babies have a lower infant mortality rate.)
    All those babies in neonatal care in your local hospital are expensive. When pregnant women don’t get proper nutrition, there is a higher chance of a premature baby, or the baby passes away. (Infant mortality.) That is very expensive hospital care. So your taxes are paying for that hospitalized baby.
    Malnourished children will not do as well in kindergarten. They start off in school already falling behind. Who pays for this? All of us. W.I.C. also helps new mothers with breastfeeding. Hospitals used to routinely give Moms free infant formula, provided by the formula companies. WIC provides free lactation counseling and support. Some moms don’t know how to hold their newborn so she can “latch on” to the mother’s nipple. Moms aso might not know about getting enough liquids to produce enough breastmilk. W.I.C. provides lactation support. Breastfed babies are usually healthier.
    If we do not fund programs for low income children, we pay for their services in other ways. Drug rehab. Prisons. Use your imagination, Alan. Republicans think it is also okay to not provide employer funded contraception, ala Hobby Lobby. So who is paying for the contraception? Low income women. Or they stop using it, get pregnant, and your tax dollars are paying for WIC, Food Stamps. Immunizations, public school education for twelve years. What is more expensive, in the long run?
    BP says “Why bother?” answering these posts.
    BP, contribute to a meaningful, intelligent debate. Give specific examples of what you would do differently, and how your ideas are better. People will listen to you if you back up your rants with specific examples, as I have just done with my W.I.C. example. What, specifically, fuels your conservative thought process, BP? Please tell us specifically how you will lower taxes and decrease spending without raising costs elsewhere.
    I am an eternal optimist. When Hillary becomes president, our best days are ahead.


    1. Barack Palin

      No, the reason I said “why bother” to Alan is he tried to explain to you that : “some things” implies what follows are examples, not an exhaustive list. But you knew that already, Daily Disrupter” but you still didn’t catch on.

      So the “why bother” to Alan. Kapeesh?

  6. D.D.

    I think this is the word that BP mutilated:
    Capisce (pronounced cah-PEESH) is an Italian word that is used in American slang to say “got it” or “understand.” The correct word in Italian would be capisci (pronounced cah-PEE-shee) to address the second person informally, a.k.a. you. Capisce, in Italian, is used only to address the second person formally (like when speaking to an elder or someone you don’t know) or to express that a third person (he, she, it) understands. The correct Italian pronunciation of capisce is cah-PEE-shay.

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