The group sat down for a brainstorm, examining and addressing an issue plaguing numerous low income families in America, affordable housing. The question the group had to ask each other was how can one make housing much more affordable so that everyone would be presented with the opportunity to be homeowners themselves. After the ideas presented by the group, three were decided upon as the best as voted by our peers in the class and ourselves.
Among one of our most popular ideas were providing incentives for contractors and developers to drive down costs and build these smaller, more affordable homes. Housing is an expensive ordeal to fully build and furnish, and building smaller, more affordable homes, generally is not as desirable for a construction business due to the lower profit margin generally associated with them. Offering these incentives for a business to build affordable housing options into their projects is an important enticement that would hopefully increase the number of affordable homes for the people.
Another option including and favored by our group was community involvement into these homes that would help with maintenance. Not only are homes and mortgages expensive, maintenance and general upkeep can be an additional and frustrated cost that can be diminutive at first but ultimately rack up larger bills. Teaching community involvement in helping neighbors where they can possibly help in house maintenance tasks. Additional ideas include community gardens that can help reduce overall food costs as well as increase an overall quality of life in the neighborhood. These are all simpler ideas to help reduce costs of general home costs for more affordable housing.
As voted upon by our peers in the class, and one of the groups personal favorite ideas, was the idea of shared utility costs in the neighborhoods. These tied utility bills would hypothetically drive their overall prices down for the homes. Shared costs of these bills would help lower homes and their overall expense down as the bills are tied together. These driven down costs ultimately make it more readily available to own a home as it is a less expected expense on the overall home for these families. Ultimately this idea was settled upon in the group as what we felt our strongest idea was with less worries than others, as well was well received by the class in itself during the voting.
Our top ideas were…
Work for rent– Work for rent is a concept where people who do not have enough funds to make a down payment for housing can go to a complex and work for the renters to pay for their rent. A large portion of rent paid goes to cover the owner of a building’s cost to run the complex, so if there are programs where people who need help paying rent can work on landscape, maintenance, cleaning, etc. in exchange for rent or as a way to reduce their monthly payment. This can help keep low income buildings well maintained, nice to live in, and affordable for a lot more people. If the people who live in a place also work to make it nicer, than the amount of care that goes into the work will show in the end result. This confronts the unfair way that cheap housing is in near disrepair, and how the slumlords can charge more rent than it should be because of a lack of better options. This strategy would be a lot more effective if the government incentivized programs such as this to attract the owners of buildings in areas that need it.
Rent to own– Renting to own allows people to build some equity when they pay rent. When people are using half their incomes on their rent then their money is essentially lost to the renters. So, if there was some program incentivized by the government for people who pay rent on time, have been good tenants, and have stayed in a place for a prolonged time to be able to build up equity in the property that they live in. Over time, part of their rent every month will build up in equity, and if they want they can take out a mortgage to buy the place, but the equity that they have built up will go towards the down payment or directly to pay off some of the mortgage.
Split housing– If there were a lot of multi-family housing units developed in existing structures that are in disrepair using the rent-to-own and work-for-rent concepts discussed above, then many of the low income housing problems can be addressed. Many existing structures in Columbus could be great places to live, and if communities that are affordable and promote care for housing are set up then they could be brought back to their intended potential and the slow decay of low income housing could stop and maybe one day, they will just be regular housing and everyone will have the opportunity to live in an affordable nice place.
Our team decided that the most effective strategy would be the work for rent program. We believe this because of all of the ideas listed above, the work for rent program would be the easiest to implement and would have a positive outcome on the community immediately.