fbpx

Scholer: Crapo’s housing affordability proposal is good for Idaho

GUEST OPINION

Affordable homes are essential for a thriving Idaho. Yet many Idaho families are finding it harder to obtain an affordable home as growth in rent prices outpace growth in paychecks and folks continue to move to our state. Idaho U.S. Senator Mike Crapo understands that Congress can help make sure that affordable homes are available to more families in our state.

Last month, Senator Crapo released an outline for legislation that would help states like Idaho tackle what is arguably the fastest growing problem we face today: a rapidly tightening rental market combined with a lack of affordable units being built. Senator Crapo’s proposal to increase access to affordable homes acknowledges the magnitude of the affordability crisis here and across the country and proposes good solutions. Policymakers would do well to follow his lead.

Idaho faces a nearly 30,000-unit shortage in affordable and available rental units for renters of modest means. In over 80 percent of Idaho’s counties, the average renter’s wages aren’t enough to afford a two-bedroom rental. Further, only one out of the top five most common Idaho occupations pay wages that support an affordable rental home. In particular, Idahoans with disabilities, seniors living on fixed incomes, and families with children are facing increased barriers to finding affordable places to live.

Senator Crapo’s outline draws from similar legislation he championed in 2014 to address this crisis. That bill would have appropriated $3.5 billion annually to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). The NHTF is a proven solution that exists to establish public-private partnerships that build, expand and rehabilitate affordable units for rent. The $3.5 billion would be an increase of nearly 13 times what is currently appropriated to the fund, drastically improving the ability for states like Idaho to build affordable homes. The previous bill, which garnered broad bipartisan support, also proposed reforming public housing finance enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack.

[Gov. Little: first-time homebuyers’ credit could help affordability issue]

Senator Crapo consistently demonstrates leadership on issues related to housing affordability and increasing resources for Idaho renters. Last year, he sponsored a bill that included provisions permanently protecting tenants against foreclosure of their rental homes and also expanded the Family Self-Sufficiency program. The recently released outline continues the important work he first introduced in 2014 and establishes a meaningful starting point in addressing the challenge of ensuring access to affordable homes.

We know what the stakes are when homes are beyond reach for working families. The unaffordability of homes has contributed to the 64 percent spike in homelessness among schoolchildren.

The proposal should be met with broad support from all parts of Idaho’s economy – including healthcare, education and economic development – especially as new research strongly links affordable homes to positive outcomes for each of those sectors. Idaho’s long-term economic vitality depends in large part on our ability to ensure every Idahoan has an affordable place to live, and the success of Senator Crapo’s proposal is instrumental to making that a reality.

You power BoiseDev.

We need your help – a membership makes these stories possible (and gets you a great daily newsletter). Sign up today

Josh Scholer
Josh Scholer is a Policy Specialist with a focus on housing affordability at Idaho Voices for Children. Prior to being at Idaho Voices for Children, Josh lobbied on behalf of students at Boise State.

ACHD says it will fight new CCDC areas: says they are ‘gerrymandered,’ illegal

The president of the Ada County Highway District sent a strongly-worded, lengthy letter to the chairman of the Capital City Development Corporation...

Bird bump: Scooter company raises ride rates in Boise

With summer on the way, Bird, the escooter company, increased its ride rates in Boise. Rides now cost $0.31...

Boise’s Carnegie Library gets new owner, purpose

The Carnegie Library on Washington St. is one of Boise's oldest - and grandest - building. Now, after an abandoned plan...

Big business: Boise’s Albertsons, Micron increase ranking on annual Fortune list

Fortune Magazine is out with its latest list of the top 500 businesses in the US, ranked by revenues. Two Idaho...

‘One of the largest deals ever:’ New firm buys big portfolio of valley buildings and land

BoiseDev FIRST members got this story before the general public. Sign up today to get our scoops in your inbox.

Solutions sought after project to cleanup Downtown alley moves grease & trash juice onto sidewalk

A new location for some of Downtown Boise's trash is making for a sticky and smelly situation along Bannock St.