Affordable Housing 101: Highlights from our April Funders Roundtable

By C. Marie Henderson, Director, The Community Foundation for Montgomery County

For the April session, the Funders Roundtable group received a crash course in affordable housing by Angie Rodgers, Principal of Peoples Consulting, LLC, and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG).

Rodgers kicked off by explaining the meaning of “affordable” and how this can differ greatly by jurisdiction due to drastic differences in typical household incomes compared to the cost of living. Experts in the field define “housing burdened” as anyone who spends more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

There are federal, state and local programs designed to help those who are “housing burdened,” which tend to be households with less than average incomes – typically 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $68,500 for a family of four in our area. These programs are always greatly oversubscribed, however, and rarely provide enough assistance to help everyone who needs it.

As a result, thousands of our neighbors are falling into debt and/or becoming homeless as they struggle to keep up with the rising cost of rent, food, utilities and childcare.

Rodgers distinguished between rental-focused and homeownership-focused affordable housing. She then highlighted the numerous roles involved in creating and preserving affordable housing in both the public and private sectors. The group then discussed the challenges specific to Montgomery County and the potential roles that private funders can play.

What can funders do?

There are numerous opportunities for private funders to address the needs around affordable housing in our community:

  • Aligning giving in transit-accessible areas for residential and community services to support low-income and otherwise vulnerable households.
  • Providing financial support to organizations that effectively lead public advocacy efforts since advocacy and education have a significant impact on the amount of public sector resources dedicated to affordable housing.
  • Creating a financial structure that allows philanthropists to pool funds from their endowments or other resources for lending capital to development and preservation projects. These funds could be used for property acquisition and other pre-development costs for 5-7 years so that developers can acquire permanent financing for housing development or preservation around transit corridors.

Want to learn more?

To learn more from Angie Rodgers, Principal of Peoples Consulting, LLC, contact her at angie@peoples-consulting.org  You can also review her entire presentation via the following link:

WRAG produced a brief report that provides a great snapshot of the needs and issues funders should consider about the issues of affordable housing:

If you’d like to know more about WRAG’s Affordable Housing Action Team, contact Gretchen Greiner-Lott at greiner-lott@washingtongrantmakers.org.

To learn more about the next Funders Roundtable discussion, contact Bridget Hanagan, Donor Services Officer of The Community Foundation for Montgomery County, at 301-495-3036 x169 or bhanagan@cfncr.org.