03.14.16
Maury County Needs to do its HOMEwork

http://columbiadailyherald.com/opinion/letters-editor/maury-county-needs... Where can I find an affordable place to stay in Maury County? This question is being asked by more and more people who are searching for a place to live, but increasingly there are no places available for them inMaury County. Of course, the more money that you have the more options you have to finda place to live for you and your family. However, there are still many people searching for a quality, affordable, and safe place to live in Maury County with few options. On the other hand, there are many people in Maury County who spend a significant portion of their income on housing, which leaves little for other essentials such as food, medicine,clothing, transportation, and living expenses. According to a September 2015 research report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and Enterprise Community Partners, 11.8 million households spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent, and that number is expected to increase to 13.1 million by 2025. By the federal government’s definition, housing is affordable if it costs less than30 percent of a family’s income. The Harvard University report also points out that the U.S. Department ofHousing and Urban Development (HUD), states that the “need for affordablehousing is already overwhelming the capacity of federal, state and local governments to supply assistance and meet the demand. At last measure, 11.2 million extremely low-income households competed for 7.3 million homesaffordable to them — a 3.9 million home shortfall, and just over a quarter of eligible very low-income households received rental assistanceleaving 7.7 million unassisted very low- income renters with worst case housing needs in 2015.” By HUD’s definition, low-income limits are set at 80 percent of the median income for a given area, and very low- income limits are set at 50percent of the median income. The 2015 area median family income in MauryCounty was $53,600. This means that a family is considered low income if their household income is less than $42,900. By contrast, a very low-income family receives a household income less than $26,800. Unfortunately, there are still so many people in our community who don’t have any money left to live on after paying their rent and utilities eachmonth. The current wage growth is not keeping up with the cost of living for many of these low-income families. So, we must focus on providing a variety of affordable housing options inMaury County to accommodate low- income families while they are climbing the ladder to higher income and homeownership. It is important to remember that a strong economy with a variety of jobs must insure that affordable housing is available for the people who work on those jobs. Let’s have a discussion about how to address this concern and discover practical solutions to expand affordable housing options in Maury County. I want to personally invite local leaders, developers, elected officials,business owners, service agencies, and interested citizens to the Maury County Housing Summit on March 24th at Columbia State Community College Hickman Building-Room 123 from 9a.m.-12p.m. The keynote speaker for the event is Mr. Ralph Perrey, Tennessee Housing Development Agency Executive Director. You can conveniently register online for the summit today at http://evite.me/Y4B7Mmvrfw Let’s do our HOME work in Maury County and make a commitment to preserve and create additional affordable housing for those who desperately need it. The success of our economy depends on it.

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