Affordable Housing an Ongoing Need for Families

Since reopening our offices in Iowa last year, we have focused on a number of key issues affecting children and families.  We want to make sure families have access to affordable, high-quality child care, and that children have access to pre-k learning opportunities. We want children to be safe in their homes and communities, and we want to see all of our kids succeed.  To achieve these goals, we must consider a number of variables, one of them being the need for affordable and safe housing in our communities.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in 2015, more than 564,000 people were homeless on a given night in the United States.  Approximately 37% of those individuals were members of families. The Institute for Community Alliances reports that just under 13,000 Iowans were homeless in 2015, including 5,800 people representing 2,424 families. Fifty-eight percent of the family members experiencing homelessness were under the age of 18 and served by shelters, transitional housing or permanent supporting housing programs.

For young children and infants, experiencing homelessness could increase the likelihood of developmental disabilities, developmental delays, emotional problems, and behavioral issues.  Homeless children and infants have an increased likelihood of experiencing toxic stress, which has an impact on a child’s brain development. Additionally, the parent/child interactions may be compromised given the challenges experienced by homeless parents.

Defined as spending less than 30% of a family’s gross income on rent or mortgage payments, affordable housing can be difficult to find. Iowa’s median gross rental, in relation to household income, would be considered affordable at 27%. However, from the urban areas across the state found that Iowa City residents struggle, with 61% of renters paying more than 30% of their income on rent, followed by Ames with 59% of renters paying more than 30% of their income on rent, then Cedar Falls (55%), Waterloo (51%), and Des Moines (49%).

Affordable communities are important to the future of our kids and our families. Let’s continue to make sure candidates running for office at the local, state, and national level know there is a need to support affordable housing in our communities.