We have three criteria that all of our home-buyers must meet to be accepted into the Habitat program.  They are: 1) need for housing  2)  ability to pay  and 3)  willingness to partner.  These have long been a part of our Habitat’s successful selection criteria helping us insure that  a Habitat house will indeed be a blessing and not a burden.

One of the housing needs that we see frequently is from families who are “cost-burdened” by their current housing expenditures.  We define “cost-burdened” as families whose total housing cost (rent+utilities) exceeds 30% of their income.  Another frequent need we see is from families who are overcrowded in their current housing.

Over the past 2 years, we have seen the trend of those families whose cost of housing is a burden to them continue to rise.  This past year, 73% of the families qualified for our program under the cost burdened and/or overcrowded category.

Here’s a statement from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, State of the Nation’s Housing 2012, report:

“The recession took a toll on household incomes, but did little to reduce housing outlays for many Americans.  Between 2007 and 2010, the number of US households paying more than half of their incomes for housing rose by an astounding 2.3 million, bringing the total to 20.2 million….Moreover, the recent jump in the number of severely cost-burdened households comes on top of a 4.1 million surge in 2001-7.”

They continue, “For households paying large shares of income for housing, making ends meet is a daily challenge.  Among families with children in the bottom expenditure quartile, those with severe housing cost burdens spend about 3/5 as much on food, half as much on clothes, and 2/5 as much on healthcare as those living in affordable housing.  Providing assistance to cost-burdened households not only helps to ensure a decent place to live, but also frees up resources to meet life’s other necessities.”

Click here to see the full report.