It’s a hot issue. Who says?
Anecdotal as well as polling/statistical evidence for some years suggests that ‘housing affordability’ has drawn ever more attention on the political left than the right. But during the Trump Administration, that gap may be narrowing, as HUD Secretary Ben Carson and the White House have made affordable housing more of a focus.
A snapshot reflects the trend.
In 2016, “Likely voters not only want to see affordable housing on party platforms but also consider the issue to be an important factor in their voting decisions: Six in ten” according to Make Room USA, which now directs readers to the left-of-center National Low Income Housing Coalition website. Almost half of likely voters, per that 2016 survey, some 48 percent, said affordable housing was an important issue to them.
Fast forward to the spring of 2019, and the issue of housing affordability is surging.
“The vast majority of the public (85%) believes that ensuring everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a “top national priority”…” said research by Opportunity Starts at Home. “That view is strong across the political spectrum – from 95% of Democrats agreeing it should be a top national priority to 87% of independents to 73% of Republicans.”
As part of the Opportunity Starts at Home research, a coalition of nonprofits signed onto a letter addressed to 2020 presidential hopefuls.
That open letter begins with this paragraph.
“Dear 2020 Presidential Hopefuls:
For too long, the critical importance of safe, decent, affordable housing has been overlooked in presidential campaigns. Rental housing affordability has worsened dramatically over the past 15 years, and more households than ever are struggling to pay the rent and make ends meet. For those at the bottom of the income scale, the problem is most acute: more than 10 million households with extremely low incomes are either homeless or pay unaffordable rental costs that force them to make impossible choices between paying the rent and paying for heat, food, medications, transportation, and other necessities. Research demonstrates that when people have stable affordable homes, lives dramatically improve. We are healthier. Our children do better in school. Our families are less hungry. We can more readily escape poverty and climb the income ladder. Economic productivity is stronger. And our nation is more just and equitable.”
The entire letter is linked here as a download.
The meatiest part of their media release is as follows below. Let’s preface our quoting this research by saying that MHProNews editorially disagrees with their policy prescriptions while noting that the data they present is nevertheless important for our industry to consider. Our analysis will follow the extended quote from their release to MHProNews.
Washington, DC – Today, the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign released the results of a national public opinion poll that it recently commissioned through Hart Research Associates. The vast majority of the public (85%) believes that ensuring everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a “top national priority.” This view is strong across the political spectrum – from 95% of Democrats agreeing it should be a top national priority to 87% of independents to 73% of Republicans. Eight in ten also say that both the president and Congress should “take major action” to make housing more affordable for low-income households.
While people in the United States almost unanimously agree that stable affordable housing is very important or one of the most important things that affect security and well-being, they are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of housing. In fact, 60% say housing affordability is a serious problem in the area where they live, which is up 21 points from 2016. Majorities of people who live in cites (70%), suburbs (59%) and small town and rural areas (53%) say housing affordability is a problem in the area where they live.
Eighty-nine percent of the public says that it is a “big problem” when people have to spend more than half of their monthly income to pay for housing. Moreover, 61% say that they themselves have had to make at least one sacrifice in the past three years because they were struggling to pay for housing, such as taking on an additional job, cutting back on healthy food, stopping retirement savings, cutting back on materials or out-of-school activities that support their child’s learning, skipping other important bills like electricity or water, and cutting back on healthcare. People under age 50 (74%), African Americans (69%), Hispanics (79%), and renters (79%) are among those most likely to have made sacrifices in the past three years to afford their housing.
The public is eager for elected leaders to take action. Ninety percent of people believe that as one of the most prosperous nations in the world, we should do more to prevent homelessness and 68% think the government is doing too little to make sure there are enough affordable places for people to live. Greater than eight in 10 (83%) agree that elected officials are not paying enough attention to the cost of housing and the need for more affordable housing. It is not surprising, then, that 76% say they are more likely to vote for a candidate that has a detailed plan for making housing more affordable (this includes large majorities of people across party lines and 59% of conservative Republicans).
The poll also reveals that the public expects solutions: in fact, 78% say government has an important role to play in making sure there are enough affordable places to live (including 91% of Democrats, 76% of independents, and 62% of Republicans). Eighty-two percent think it is very or fairly important for their elected leaders to address housing affordability; this is a priority that crosses
the political spectrum with 94% of Democrats, 80% of independents, and 69% of Republicans saying it is important. Four in five people in the United States agree that Congress (80%) and the president (78%) should “take major action” to make housing more affordable for low-income households.
When it commissioned the poll, the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign sought to test specific policy solutions that it articulated in its National Policy Agenda. The campaign calls for: 1) a major expansion of rental assistance through vouchers or a tax credit; 2) major investments in the national Housing Trust Fund to increase the supply of housing affordable to the lowest-income people; and 3) the creation of a “National Housing Stabilization Fund” which would provide emergency financial assistance to ensure housing stability and prevent homelessness for poor households experiencing an unexpected economic hardship, such as a job loss or medical crisis not covered by insurance. The poll reveals that the public strongly supports, on a bipartisan basis, concrete solutions and increased investments… ##
Common Sense Economic Principles
Let’s begin by noting anew that a coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers who have studied the issue have touted the clear wisdom of using manufactured homes as an important part of the affordable housing crisis. ICYMI, or need a refresher, see that report linked below.
It is also important to note that from management’s vantagepoint as industry experts that this is ideally an issue that should draw bipartisan support. Indeed, historically it has.
That said, as noted above, MHProNews finds the raw data cited above interesting, while taking issue with the various group’s policy prescriptions. A more prudent path would look something closer to what the following have advocated.
· HUD Secretary Ben Carson,
· the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and
· the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) – among others – have argued that increasing supply is the free market way of addressing the challenge of affordable housing.
· Years ago, our popular sister site – MHLivingNews – argued that the Solution to the Affordable Housing Crisis is Hiding in Plain Sight. That article and video is still as valid now as it was when they were first published and produced.
Secretary Carson has made several pro-manufactured home statements since early on with his being named to become the new leader at HUD by President Donald J. Trump. Those have increased in recent months, with the Innovative Housing Showcase that HUD and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and others exhibited on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 1-5, 2019.
HUD produced its own videos of the event, including this wrap up video that shows both prefab and manufactured homes. The interior shots this video that ‘look like you are in a conventional house’ are in HUD Code manufactured homes.
Dr. Carson has also made a point to be on mainstream news, from both left-and-right of center media outlets, in the run-up and since the Innovative Housing Showcase.
Not unlike the president, and several 2020 Democrats, that’s prudent to engage with the widest possible audience. Why?
Because it is debatably impossible to win someone over that has never heard or seen your point of view.
The challenge for manufactured housing, in part, is that the viewpoint of tens of millions are stuck in the 1970s, and the changes as Secretary Carson has said are noteworthy.
Carson and NAR’s 2018 researcher Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton have made points that the industry’s self-proclaimed post-production trade group has failed to promote to the public at large. Those ‘insider baseball’ issues are becoming better understood by thousands of manufactured housing professionals and investors but are not yet as well understood by the general public.
The intersection of business, politics, and media and manufactured housing’s version of ‘the swamp’ are top issue that are covered here and on our sister site, but by virtually no one else in the industry’s largely arguably weaponized trade media. But the willingness for this platform to take those thorny issue on has made and kept us the runaway #1 in our industry.
That willingness to probe the good, bad, and meh and report with relevant analysis are perhaps reasons too why:
· Research and reports covered by Manufactured Home Living News has been cited by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in their 2014 white paper on manufactured housing, as have others in media and academia.
· Documentation first published on MHProNews have been read into the Congressional record.
· Our publisher is among the most recommended and endorsed professionals in all of manufactured housing.
Our industry, if not for the machinations of the so-called Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis, would arguably be soaring instead of snoring. 22 million Americans living in pre-HUD Code mobile homes and post-June 15, 1976 code manufactured homes would likely be joined by millions of others, based on facts, not hype. Genuine interviews – as opposed to faux or staged videos – with actual homeowners and experts have helped those who are seriously researching our industry to better understand the reality vs. the outdated notions.
That said, more needs to occur, as the facts below reflect. It’s a stark example of how manipulated news can be in the modern era, because if the facts were better understood, much of the affordable housing crisis would look quite differently.
In our recent reports on the Gilded Age and Operation Choke Point reflected, we’ve routinely noted how history reflects patterns useful for moderns to better understand our own era. Progress is being made, albeit slowly, on the public awareness of ‘fake news.’
Only by holding the powers that be accountable can we hope to break out of the purportedly artificial malaise that our industry endures. To learn more, see the related reports, below the byline and notices.
That’s our third installment today on “News Through the Lens of Manufactured Homes and Factory-Built Housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.
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