Affordable Housing Finance by Kim Hawtrey (auth.)

By Kim Hawtrey (auth.)

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One of the key factors enhancing this sense of social unity is housing stability. Further evidence in this direction, that housing strengthens communities, is provided by DiPasquale and Glaeser (1998) who demonstrated that homeowners are more likely to know their Congressional representative (by ten percent) and school board head by name (by nine percent), and are more likely to vote in local elections (by 15 percent) and work to solve local problems (by six percent). Another US study found that homeowners are more likely to be satisfied with their homes and neighborhoods, and more likely to volunteer in civic and political activities (Rohe, Van Zandt, and McCarthy, 2000).

This factor, the financial dimension, is a function of conditions in the capital market, not the housing market. As one commentator puts it, “this aspect of the credit situation is not captured in the home affordability index” (Haughey, 2008). Third, affordable housing is not the same as “social housing”. Publicly owned public housing, and the closely related “community housing” sector, make up social housing and can be thought of as an extension of the government’s social security services. By contrast, affordable housing addresses the gap experienced by many working and middleincome households in the private sector whose incomes are not sufficient to allow them to access adequate housing in the market.

Yet this draconian prescription has never applied to corporate debt, even in the wake of the junk bond crisis of the 1980s, and as outlined in the previous chapter, housing stress is an economic pressure in the real economy that is not going to go away any time soon. Sticking our heads in the sand and thereby trying to pretend that affordable housing finance needs will magically take care of themselves is not a realistic response. Instead, we need an intentional strategy to ensure that the financial infrastructure is in place to handle affordable housing finance better, next time around.

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