Report confirms housing nightmare | Coeur d’Alene Press



Despite the cost of rents reaching record highs, a recent study found that Idaho is 36th in the country in housing assistance spending.

Median rents across the country have jumped 13.8% since January, according to the National Apartment Association. Closer to home, the NAA reported that rental in Boise has increased 39% since March 2020.

One factor influencing costs is lack of supply, said James Casper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in northern Idaho.

“We haven’t kept pace with new construction since the 2008 housing crisis,” Casper said. “As a country, we have built a lot less housing for a long time. It wasn’t until 2013 or 2014 that there was a rebound in new construction. ”

Even with the rebound, the National Low Income Housing Coalition says the United States has a deficit of about 6.8 million “affordable” housing units. Additionally, the NLIHC found that 70% of “very low income” US families “pay more than half of their income in rent.”

An October report from moving company HireAHelper said Idaho was spending $ 184,821,000 per year on housing and community development initiatives. Not only is this less than the national allowance of $ 56,554,053,000, but it’s less than 35 other states.

Number one on the list, according to HireAHelper, is Massachusetts, which spends $ 2,977,726,000 a year.

Many housing and community development initiatives are funded by state and federal grants. More recently, COVID-19 relief dollars have played a significant role in supporting rental and homeowner assistance programs, construction projects and revitalization in the region.

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association is the state arm of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The CARES Act and the US bailout have allocated more than $ 175 million to the IHFA for emergency rental and aid to utilities to help those struggling to pay their bills.

Locally, nonprofits like the Panhandle Affordable Housing Alliance and Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho help keep people in their residences.

PAHA Acting Executive Director Maggie Lyons said funding is limited and spread across programs statewide. Dedicated low-income housing providers apply for and receive grants based on projects, Lyons said. PAHA received some funding for part of a 24 unit project built over several years as grants became available.

Another reason funding is limited, Casper said, is that the government has not developed programs to address the “dynamic changing needs” facing the people of northern Idaho. He has heard many stories from clients whose rents have increased by over $ 500 in the past year.

Typically, Casper said, this situation would lead to tenants moving out or requesting a housing choice voucher to supplement some or all of the cost. But due to high demand, some candidates are now considering a waiting list of more than two years – and there is no guarantee that it will keep up with the market price spikes.

“The entire rental aid structure uses fair market values ​​to deliver vouchers,” Casper said. “But these good increases are not going as fast as the market we know.”

Housing groups across the Panhandle are experiencing substantial increases in rental prices and property sales, resulting in a high rate of displacement of residents.

“If I paid $ 500 and my landlord increases it to $ 1,200, I don’t have that extra $ 700. So what am I going to do? »Said Lyon. “End up getting kicked out or having to leave, and that’s what is happening in Kootenai County. ”

Other factors limiting housing programs are that tax incentives are “heavily biased towards for-profit developers”. Market fluctuations and new solutions do not meet federal guidelines, Casper said.

“A lot of the money that exists is in the form of tax incentives. So the problem for nonprofits is that we don’t have a tax burden to offset in the first place,” he said. declared.

Lyons believes the solution to funding limitations must involve all charities thinking “outside the box” for “responsible and respectful responses to the demand for growth in our region.”

“Throwing money at the problem is not a solution,” she said. “The solution lies in thoughtful and rational programs developed in collaboration with community groups that give us a head start.

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