Zillow recently hosted a round-table discussion in Washington, D.C. based on this new research. Their research reported that “Communities where people spend more than 32 percent of their income on rent can expect a more rapid increase in homelessness”. They further noted, “This research demonstrates that the homeless population climbs faster when rent affordability – the share of income people spend on rent – crosses certain thresholds.”
Recent reports show that in Raleigh a household must earn about $20 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment and not spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The News & Observer’s Henry Gargan reported that 45% of Raleigh renters are spending over 30% of their income on rent making them housing insecure. The research discussed at the DC round-table hosted by Zillow suggests that the increases in housing insecurity that Raleigh is experiencing could portend a more rapid increase in homelessness. The good news is that our Wake County and City of Raleigh officials are working on policies to preserve and create affordable housing. But will that be enough?
About 85% of the families we serve include at least one person that is employed, but on average they earn about half of what is needed to sustain rent payments in Raleigh. These families that are working so hard to get out of homelessness face the hardest uphill climb of all. Some of the ways Families Together is working to anticipate and address the challenges they will face include providing more workforce training to increase household earnings, hiring a financial health counselor to help families improve credit scores and money management, partnering with groups like Habitat for Humanity to help families move from homelessness to home ownership, and increasing the pool of affordable housing by purchasing and preserving naturally occurring affordable housing.