The Impact of Housing and Housing Navigator

Affordable housing isn’t what many people imagine. Take our True/False quiz to find out more.

  1. The pandemic caused rents to drop. Affordable housing will be easier to find.
  2. Stable housing is connected to health and economic security.
  3. Massachusetts has a big gap in making housing affordable for people who live here.
  4. Addressing homelessness and housing insecurity is too costly. We just can’t afford it.

False

The pandemic caused rents to drop. Affordable housing will be easier to find.

While high-end apartments in downtown Boston have experienced declining rents, rents at the lower end of the price scale have not fallen. In fact as of mid-2021, some traditionally more affordable communities have seen rents rise. Rents in Lowell, Springfield, Fall River and Taunton have all shot up, in some cases by as much as 12%.

True. And then some.

Stable housing is connected to health and economic security.

Housing is one of the best-researched social determinants of health.

Numerous studies tie stable housing to a general betterment in overall health outcomes. Improved mental health in children, shorter hospital stays, and lower levels of psychological distress and intimate partner violence are all impacts of providing people with stable and safe homes.

Furthermore, when people spend less on rent, they have more money to spend on necessities like food, medication, and medical treatment. Long-term financial stability also improves when people are no longer rent burdened — renters increase their ability to save for education costs or future down payments on a home and can better prepare for emergencies.

Costs to health care systems overall have also been shown to drop after people move from unstable housing situations into public housing — highlighting the fact that housing really is a public good.

True. And then some.

Massachusetts has a big gap in making housing affordable for people who live here.

Massachusetts remains one of the most expensive rental markets in the country. In 2021, you need to make over $36/hour to afford the average two bedroom rental in the state. The average Massachusetts renter makes just over $22/hour.

Renters searching for affordable rental housing are often out of luck. In Massachusetts, there are only 48 affordable and available units per 100 extremely low-income households. As a direct result of the state’s affordable housing shortage, 60% of the state’s 299,000 extremely low-income households pay more than half of their income towards rent.

False

Addressing homelessness and housing insecurity is too costly. We just can’t afford it.

In reality, we can’t afford not to. A study of supportive housing in Los Angeles found that spending across public agencies in the county was 79 percent lower for residents with supportive housing than for people experiencing homelessness, with the majority of savings coming from reductions in healthcare services.

Housing people is one of the most effective ways to decrease government spending in the long term. Beyond that, stable housing helps people live healthier lives. Housing Navigator will help more people find the housing they want and/or need, so that they can thrive.