Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rural America's Silent Housing Crisis

That's the headline for Gillian White's story in Atlantic Magazine, dateline today.  She leads with a rural-urban comparison and then gets to this depressing (but for me, familiar) point:  
Few people think about rural communities—not only when it comes to housing issues, but at all. It’s mostly a numbers game. According to data from the Housing Assistance Council (HAC), in 2012 only about 21 percent of Americans lived in rural areas, which means that not many people outside those areas—or about 80 percent of Americans—probably feel much association with rural issues. And that can make it difficult to shed light on the problems that happen there. Making the case to divert funds and attention to parts of the country that house a mere 20 percent of the total population can be an uphill battle, especially in difficult economic times. 
Is everything about rural America essentially "silent"?  I'm reminded of the philanthropy gap between rural and urban.

In any event, White provides some quotes from folks very knowledgeable about the rural housing crisis, including Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition:
Much of the affordable-housing stock in rural housing areas is old and in need of repair. Many of the people who live there don't have the resources that they need in order to keep the houses in good repair. 
And from David Dangler, director of Rural Initiatives at Neighbor Works America, which advocates for affordable housing and acts as a network for nonprofit housing groups:
When we are looking at areas that are most challenged economically we're also finding some of the most challenging housing conditions.
Then there is the part of the story where she illustrates the problem with several examples.  They seem dramatic, but they may be more typical than we--especially we urbanites--think.

The story is well worth a read in its entirety.  And I can't help wondering how Ms. White came to the topic. 

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