On Friday, June 2, the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) held its second annual PAHRC Report Forum at The Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Community development professionals gathered to celebrate the launch of the 2017 PAHRC Report: How Sustainable Communities Create Resilient People, to discuss the evidence, and provide suggestions for making communities more sustainable with a focus on lifting families out of poverty.
The annual PAHRC Report is a comprehensive source for research and statistics on assisted housing. Its purpose is to foster a better understanding of the need for housing assistance and how this assistance helps meet the needs of low-income families and their communities. Following a different theme each year, the PAHRC Report provides data on the supply of housing assistance, persons receiving assistance, and the impacts assistance has on recipients and communities.
Keely Stater kicked off the event by presenting the Report’s results and by introducing the panelists for the first session, Marc Draisen, Elyse D. Cherry, Devin Quirk, and Dr. Chris Herbert. Session One: How Affordable Housing Can Lead Sustainability Efforts explored the impact of developing an adequate supply of affordable housing on communities, as well as the role that affordable housing can play in boosting the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of places. The panelists also explored how housing, made affordable through public support, is leading sustainability efforts in many communities as well as the challenges communities face in moving toward greater sustainability. A common challenge shared by the panel is the ability to find accessible and practical housing for those in need, especially families with children. This assessment tied in closely with the PAHRC Report’s findings that “many more low-income families with children are in need of affordable housing with only an estimated one-in-three families who qualify for federal rental assistance programs receiving it. If rental assistance programs were expanded to all families that earn less than 80% of the area median income, which is the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of low-income, and are paying more than 30% of their annual income towards housing, which is the HUD definition of cost burden, 10.6 million additional low-income children could realize the benefits of an affordable home.”
A new panel for Session Two: How Affordable Housing Can Build Resilient People and Places took the stage and included locals Ruthie Liberman, Trevor Samios, John Lindamood, and Eugene Barros. At a micro-level, this panel addressed the challenges that many low-income individuals face in seeking affordable housing and the critical role of housing in building resiliency against poverty. The Panelists shared how their organizations are addressing these issues and helping families make long term transitions out of poverty, as well as provided suggestions about how communities can approach sustainability, thinking first about helping their low-income neighbors reach their goals. Each of the panelists shared major lessons learned and the consensus shared is the need to recognize that each person is unique and should be treated independently from other residents. Additionally, it is important to work with those in housing to help them achieve positive economic mobility through support, coaching, and partnerships.
HAI Group’s Manager of Research and Industry Analysis, Keely Stater, notes that, “Communities must have mechanisms to help their most vulnerable members who have difficulty meeting their basic needs to move towards greater economic, environmental, and social sustainability. By providing a data-driven snapshot of the role housing plays in facilitating community sustainability, our goal is to provide community leaders with the tools and insight they need to promote the resilience of low-income families and improve their community’s path towards sustainability.”
Click to read the 2017 PAHRC Report: How Sustainable Communities Create Resilient People.