Tim Wayman, chair of the FamilyForward Board of Directors, discusses the current rental-housing market and how FamilyForward is finding creative and effective ways to assist low-income families as they work to overcome difficult financial circumstances.
As we move into the latter months of 2023, housing-affordability issues for low-income, working families only continue to worsen. You may have seen the recent headline reporting that post-pandemic evictions have skyrocketed as “rising rents squeeze low-income Americans.” According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, record-breaking numbers of families cannot afford a decent place to call home.
Facing the facts
Nationally, there is a shortage of more than 7 million affordable homes for our nation’s 10.8 million extremely-low-income families.
There is no state or county where a renter working full time at minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment.
A total of 70% of all extremely-low-income families are severely cost-burdened, paying more than half their income on rent.
We at FamilyForward are keenly aware of the increasing number of challenges so many families face. Even in the northwest suburbs, there are fewer affordable apartment units in the market as landlords raise rents while new construction of affordable housing remains stagnant.
Meeting the challenges
FamilyForward is taking several steps to provide additional help to the cost-burdened families we serve. We are more aggressively helping parents with childcare costs, often enabling them to work full-time jobs, when in the past they could not. Through the generosity of the Harper College Educational Foundation’s Community Innovation Fund grant, we have instituted a debt-reduction matching program to help accelerate families’ journeys toward financial stability.
Additionally, under the leadership of Executive Director Erica Chianelli, we have met with state representatives and senators to (1) help them better understand the complex problems that so many low-income families face, and (2) encourage them to enact laws that reduce the growing affordable-housing gap. Finally, through our strategic-planning efforts and meetings with other nonprofit agencies facing similar challenges, we are exploring new options for housing the families we serve.
While the obstacles are real, FamilyForward remains committed to finding creative and effective ways to assist families as they work to overcome difficult financial circumstances. Our wonderful staff, volunteers and donors power our success!