As a construction worker, Adam has been trying to save little by little for the past 15 years. His only aim is to buy a house to secure his family’s future. But try as he might, he cannot find a house in his range. With the real estate cost rising little by little yet steadily, even getting such a huge mortgage seems like too big of a responsibility, and Adam isn’t sure whether he will be able to keep up with the monthly payments or not. Someone at work suggests that he look into affordable workforce housing projects to determine if he could qualify for a unit.
According to a workforce housing program, “All designated WHP units will be offered to income‐qualified households with incomes between 60% and 140% of area median income (AMI).” This stipulation distresses Adam because even though he is part of the workforce, his MFI does not fall in this category.
This scenario raises the question: Why is Adam not qualified for workforce housing despite his low income?
Like other workers, he has a lower income, but his range is slightly below the average income limit. Does this not make him eligible? The vast majority of workers earn less than 60% of AMI, and a significant amount of these people are poor yet working essential jobs, which help our economies function. Doesn’t this make the system flawed?
One would assume that, which is why the number of new workforce housing projects is increasing day by day. These new projects include all workers, such as construction workers, firefighters, nurses, doctors, police officers, and entrepreneurs.
Despite the great demand for workforce housing, the projects announced are currently on hold for one reason: High construction costs. This is one of the biggest challenges faced by this project. Although it’s not that easy to find investors, the promise of steady ROI and additional returns is getting the attention of the real estate crowd. It’s the actual work related to constructing the building causing the delay.
Here are a few other challenges that workforce housing is facing as demonstrated by Maxwell Drever, the Founder and Chairman of DCM:
People have always demanded safe, sanitary, and decent housing projects which are a problem in poor rural areas. Western states with a small population and big lands have been neglecting this, making it difficult to choose a house that catches their attention on the first visit.
Some of the community barriers creating difficulties include different cultures, educational status, separation of neighborhoods, and gaps in income range.
Lack of Planning
Whether by choice, intent, or happenstance, certain communities developed without comprehensive planning that addresses individual and community health, equity, and sustainability.
Lack of Information
“Professionals know best” is not something you can say about workforce housing. Redeveloping the communities requires including people in every step of the process for more sustainable and equitable outcomes.
Maxwell Drever says that people need to understand that by investing in workforce housing, they are not only helping their country grow but also giving low-income workers a chance to find affordable housing and fulfill their lifelong dream of becoming a homeowner.