Addressing Housing Affordability With Access to Homeownership

Oct 14, 2021 10:10 AM ET

by Mike Loftin, CEO of Homewise 

Faced with an affordable housing shortage, policymakers often overlook America’s biggest source of affordable housing: homeownership. 

Contrary to popular belief, owning is often more affordable than renting. Today, it is cheaper to buy a home than it is to rent in two-thirds of US counties, including New Mexico’s Santa Fe and Bernalillo Counties, home to high-cost Santa Fe and moderately priced Albuquerque, where Homewise, has helped more than 5,000 modest-income families become homeowners.

Nevertheless, some believe homeownership is reserved for people who achieve some level of financial success, that it’s not for people still on the path to financial security. This may explain why most federal, state, and local efforts to create more affordable housing narrowly focus on the rental market. However, the data disprove this thinking. The typical homeowners spend 10 percentage points less of their income on housing than the typical renters. 

I’m not suggesting homeownership alone can solve the housing affordability crisis. But strategies focused only on rental housing can be shortsighted, especially when homeownership may be more cost-effective for all involved. Many rental programs, including housing choice vouchers, require the government to send monthly assistance to a landlord who is under no obligation to renew a tenant’s lease.

In comparison, homeownership can provide the kind of affordability and stability low-income families need. Here’s how. 

Read Mike's insightful and practical article here