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Can You Dig It

The mismatch between wages and rent

Nearly everyone thinks of having a place to live as an investment, which it is, in part.

But housing is also a basic human need, whether people rent or buy.

Without shelter, all else falls by the wayside, as author Matthew Desmond thoughtfully illustrates in his excellent book, "Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City." http://www.evictedbook.com/

The book takes an interesting, in depth look at what it means to be poor, but also takes in the perspective of the landlord, allowing the reader an opportunity view both sides even while recognizing how much of a societal threat the rise of evictions is for our nation.

The obvious problem is that the cost of renting an apartment -- as well as the cost of buying a house -- has continued to rise, but wages have not.

This, coupled with massive cuts proposed for subsidized housing programs, will exacerbate the very real crisis that many poor people face. Rising housing prices without meaningful wage increases will make it even harder for people to afford a place to live, even for those who are not considered “poor.”

In the U.S., there is not a single state, county, or city where a person earning state or federal minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek can afford a two-bedroom home at fair market rent, according to an article from CityLab you can read here: https://bit.ly/2lnaXwR

This is why access to good, affordable housing is so far out of reach for so many. And this is why developers in the Greater Lehigh Valley also need to build more affordable housing. I’m hard-pressed to think of any new residential projects announced in the past few years that not are for upscale, luxury apartments, or what’s called “market rate.”

There have not been any new affordable housing construction projects in quite some time.

It’s about time we change that.

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