As victims of the housing market continue to look for signs of hope, on June 14 Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released its “State of the Nation’s Housing 2010” report. But for homeowners searching for optimism, this report isn’t good news. Recovery has been sluggish, it concluded, many—particularly low-income households—are still struggling to find their way.

“The report provides fresh evidence that low income families across the United States are suffering,” said National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) President Sheila Crowley. “NLIHC calls on Congress to immediately fund the National Housing trust Fund to ensure that all Americans have access to safe and affordable housing.”

Finding safe and affordable housing has been a struggle since the housing economy took a turn for the worse a few years ago. The percentage of Americans spending more than half of their incomes on housing spiked from 12 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2008. The correlation between affordable housing and jobs that pay enough for renters and buyers to afford safe housing has been improving, but the recent report suggests there is still a ways to go.

“As a baseline what this says is that we’re not out of the woods yet,” NLIHC’s Research Director Danilo Pelletiere said. “There’s been some modest recovery on some of the things that are in fact some of the least important but we really haven’t seen the top line improvements that we want to see in other words a real decline in vacancy a real improvement on foreclosures.”

The government continues its attempts to ease the burden on homeowners and renters. A press release states that legislation currently in front of Congress would provide $1.065 billion in initial funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to help communities build, rehabilitate, and preserve housing for people with the lowest incomes. Every $1 billion provided to the Trust Fund would support the immediate construction of 10,000 rental homes, creating 15,100 new construction jobs and 3,800 new jobs in ongoing operations.

Until changes are officially made and not simply promised, Pelletiere suggests those hardest hit need to continue to find ways to stay afloat despite hardships.

“Folks shouldn’t jump the gun,” he said. “They need to pay attention to the bottom line and make sure they’re not denying themselves necessities but paying attention to the fact that we’re not out of the woods yet and they need to hold on for a little while longer whether that’s staying with folks or other cutbacks they may have made.”

The State of the Nation’s Housing: 2010 is available at:


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO