The Midlands Housing Trust Fund recently released an economic impact study detailing the need for and economic benefits of affordable housing creation. Although we realized that our work was making a difference in the community, we were astounded at our reach.
The study, conducted by Joey VonNessen at the Darla Moore School of Business, calculates our regional economic impact to be $4.8 million annually, including 33 jobs created or sustained and $1.4 million in labor income. We will generate nearly $1 million in state tax revenue in the next five years.
In Richland and Lexington counties alone, more than 95,000 households earn less than 80 percent of the area median income of just more than $49,000 for a family of four. In Columbia, 56 percent of renters experience “housing cost burden,” paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs. And the need for affordable rental housing is increasing as banks’ stricter lending practices exclude many working families from homeownership.
Besides being a critical element of family stability and good health, affordable housing impacts a region’s ability to attract new business. Employer surveys consistently cite adequate affordable housing as an important factor considered in expansion or relocation. The Midlands region hasn’t yet attracted as many large employers as other regions, and affordable housing concerns are part of the problem.
Affordable housing doesn’t negatively impact property values when it is well-managed and embedded within stable, higher-value neighborhoods. In fact, adjacent property values increase when housing units in distressed neighborhoods are repaired, revitalized and turned into affordable housing.
Additionally, communities with exclusionary housing practices may be in violation of fair housing laws if they deny low-income minorities the chance to live in neighborhoods with better schools and greater opportunity. So there are both economic and legal reasons to redouble efforts to create more affordable housing in the Midlands.
We are proud to be part of the region’s efforts to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of Midlands citizens by creating safe, affordable housing and providing substantial economic benefits for the communities we serve.
Midlands Housing Trust Fund