The availability of adequate and affordable housing in Lincoln has become a crisis. In fact, housing is unaffordable for 47 percent of Lincolnites that rent at all income levels. Finding suitable, affordable housing is especially a struggle for low-income Lincolnites, who often must rent. Indeed, 91 percent of extremely low-income families spend more than one-third of their income on rent. Many are living in unsuitable living conditions. In Lincoln, about 12,000 households are living with housing adequacy issues. Lincoln must address these issues before they become worse.
Many housing authorities, from the federal government to advocacy groups, use a “cost burden” standard when talking about housing affordability. That is, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing are considered cost burdened. In other words, their housing is not affordable. For those spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing, they are considered “severely cost burdened.”
The adequacy of housing is also a problem in Lincoln. Adequacy problems can include a lack of plumbing, electricity, hot water, or the presence of vermin among other things. As indicated above, in Lincoln, about 12,000 households are living with elements of housing adequacy issues, which includes incomplete kitchens or plumbing or severe overcrowding.
Median income for a family of 3
HUD-defined “unaffordable cost burden” rent expenditure threshold (30% of income)
Percent and number of renter households paying over 30% of income on rent
Very Low Income
Extremely Low Income
PROPOSALS FOR REFORM
- The current system relies on complaints.
- The current system does not allow for proactive inspection of interior.
- A proactive inspection code helps bring buildings into compliance more quickly.
- Proactive inspection can help preserve property values.
- Proactive inspection can decrease fires.