This article will examine the state of affordable housing in Montevideo.

This article will examine the state of affordable housing in Montevideo. An upcoming article will look at possible alternatives or solutions to the problem of affordable housing.

Whatever happened to the “American dream?” The dream about working hard and saving money to someday own your own home. The dream about raising a family and being able to afford sending the kids off to college. The dream of a comfortable, well deserved retirement in the “golden years.”

Unfortunately, that dream is on life support and gasping for its last precious breaths. Decent, affordable housing is beyond the reach of an ever increasing number of Americans.

There are many questions as to why this is happening, and there are just as many answers. The problem is that there are no easy solutions.

According to attn: (www.attn.com), “there is not a single state in the U.S. where a minimum wage employee working full-time can reasonably afford a one-bedroom apartment at the fair market rate.”

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (www.nlihc.org/oor), reported that a minimum wage worker would have to work 86 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment at the average  2015 Fair Market Rent of $806.

In Minnesota, the NLIHC estimated that it would take a minimum wage employee 68 hours per week to afford a one- bedroom apartment.

Research from the Urban Institute (www.urban.org) shows that “without exception, there’s no county in the U.S. that has enough affordable housing.”

These are troubling facts, but just what is the housing situation like in Montevideo?

According to Carman Mills, executive director for the Montevideo Hous­ing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), renting or purchasing affordable housing in Montevideo is limited, at best.

“Right now, Parkview Tower does not have any apartments available, and I have a waiting list for any apartments that become available,” she said. “Also, there aren’t many  houses on the purchasing market, either.”

In regard to the near future of the Montevideo housing market, Mills  had this to say: “I feel the up and coming market is with the baby boomers. Those people who want to downsize and have fewer upkeep duties (such as mowing and snow removal) yet not leave Montevideo.”

Mills is very concerned about the housing outlook for baby boomers. “I believe our community needs to look at the baby boomers and create housing to assure that these people have housing that will keep them in Monte­video, instead of moving to another city,” she said.

Unfortunately, there is nowhere near enough supply of affordable housing in Montevideo to meet the demand. This is a driving factor in the increase in home prices and rent.

The HRA does have programs to assist prospective renters as well as  home buyers. Rental assistance is available to low income people. Eligibility guidelines for rental assistance are 30 percent of gross income.

There are also programs for people looking to purchase a home. Again, 30 percent of gross income is used as a guideline to determine eligibility.

There can be many obstacles in the way of someone seeking affordable housing. Mills notes that one obstacle is a lack of awareness of services available to low income individuals and families.

Housing specialist Ellen Moore works with the Chippewa County HRA at the courthouse in Monte­video. She also feels that the affordable housing market in Montevideo is tight. Her office currently has 45 open applications for assistance.

Moore agrees that there can be many obstacles to finding decent housing. “Bad credit and bad references can make it difficult to find affordable housing,” she said. “Families with pets may not find much in the way of housing. Smokers may also  be limited in their choices.”

There may be no easy solutions to the affordable housing crisis, but the causes are apparent.

First and foremost is the lack of supply of affordable housing. A check of local realtors’ websites reveals that most houses that are for sale locally could not be purchased by lower income families.

Homes available for rent (when there are any) often times rent for far more than lower income families can afford.

The income gap between the rich and the poor has never been as wide as it is today. Millions of Amer­icans who were at one time considered “middle class” are now finding it difficult to keep their homes.

The working poor are having the toughest time finding decent, affordable housing. With the demise of the standard, full-time 40 hours per week job plus benefits, many working poor are having to work multiple part-time jobs (with no benefits)  just to make ends meet.

This forces many individuals and families to accept housing that is substandard.

Of course, everyone has probably noticed that money does not go as far as it used to. It seems like every product we buy is shrinking in size while costing more.

When people are faced with so many obstacles to decent, affordable housing, they take whatever they can get. Home may be in a trailer park. Or maybe with parents or other relatives. Or maybe with other individuals or families in the same predicament. Or maybe the street.

 

It has been said that a civilization is judged by how it treats its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Food, shelter and water are considered basic human rights.

 

Dreams die hard. How  is your American dream doing?

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