I often speak at public meetings about the state of affordable housing in our region. In both our rural and larger towns, we’re seeing many of the same challenges as large urban areas:
What is the federal role in affordable housing, and how can we make improvements?
The federal government has a housing subsidy program, called Section 8, that provides housing vouchers that can be associated with a renter or with a particular housing unit. In our region of California, like many other places, the program is not working very well. There are also federal financial incentive programs to encourage development of affordable housing, but in many rural areas, we are not seeing any new housing development, much less affordable housing development, so these programs do not have much impact on our communities. In the end, much of our less-expensive housing units are old, dilapidated, and may contain hazardous building materials or mold that is not healthy for tenants.
I think we can develop innovative programs that can help coordinate federal, state, and local programs and laws to improve affordable housing.