Voters embraced affordable housing initiatives. Advocates say … –

Voters in nine communities OK’d measures to finance affordable housing. (Getty Images/Carebott)

Bond referenda successes in Buncombe County and Charlotte seen as emblematic of growing national support

Voters in Colorado approved a statewide affordable housing initiative in November; while voters in nine communities across the country (including two in North Carolina) OK’d measures to finance the construction of affordable housing, preserve existing rental properties and support renters. But as housing costs soar, analysts and advocates say more needs to be done and argue that federal action is needed.

Robert Silverman, a professor at the department of urban and regional planning at the University at Buffalo, said the affordable housing crisis we’re seeing today has been many years in the making.

“It’s a structural problem with the housing market, where housing prices keep going up, costs of construction have increased, and incomes haven’t necessarily kept up with that part of the market,” he said. “It’s been something that’s been brewing for a couple of decades now. And the policy response, although there has been some, hasn’t been large enough to really wrap its arms around the entire problem.”

Higher building costs, a shrinking supply of low-cost rental units and more people with higher incomes choosing to rent rather than buy are driving the increase in higher-priced rentals and corresponding decline in low-cost units, according to a 2020 report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Over the past five years, rent increased on average 5.8% year-over-year but saw the steepest increase — 14% — from 2021 to 2022, according to Credit Karma’s analysis of rental data. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau’s five-year survey shows that 40% of renters put 30% of their income toward housing. Higher home prices — the median sales price for a home in the third

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