Economic development professionals talk a lot about creating jobs, strengthening neighborhoods and stimulating business. If an economy is to be built to sustain families across the nation, housing opportunities must be included as part of economic development. In 2023, the need for affordable housing will be even more urgent. The Houston Housing Authority, for example, opened its public housing waitlist for the first time in five years. Since Jan. 15, the agency has received more than 31,000 applications. This indicates a resounding and growing need for even more affordable housing.

With more people re-entering the workforce in-person and an increasing need for housing, the cost of living is becoming increasingly unaffordable. This is making it difficult for lower-income households to afford a place to live and is leading to an increase in homelessness.

Many experts are making their forecasts on what the housing trends will look like in the new year. David A. Northern Sr., CEO and President of the Houston Housing Authority, shares his thoughts on what trends stand out and will affect Americans most in 2023.

Maximize Use of Existing Government Programs

For the last few years, COVID-19 has put a major strain on the economy. The housing industry is no exception. With unemployment rates still on the high end, many are struggling to afford their rent or mortgage payments and more people are being pushed into homelessness. In response, there is an increased need for more affordable housing options. Northern believes the first step in addressing this need is to increase the availability of affordable housing. “We must expand existing programs, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and create new ones, such as rent relief or rent-to-own programs,” Northern said. “In addition, local, state and federal governments should invest in housing that is designed to meet the needs of those most affected by the pandemic, such as seniors, low-income families and essential workers.”

In addition to increasing availability, Northern strongly believes there is a need to ensure housing is more affordable. This includes measures such as rent control, housing subsidies and rent-to-own programs. Governments should also give incentives to developers to build affordable housing, and they should reduce zoning regulations and other barriers to construction. “When we liminate barriers, we create opportunities,” Northern said.

The Need for More Workforce and Mixed-Income Communities

As our population expands, so does the need for adequate housing. “With the current housing market, many people are being priced out of housing, leaving a gap in the workforce housing market,” Northern said. “This gap needs to be addressed so that working people can afford to live in their communities.” One way to address the workforce housing gap is to create more mixed-income communities. This means creating housing in which people of different economic backgrounds can live in the same neighborhood. Northern shared how people of different economic backgrounds can benefit from living in the same neighborhood, as they can “learn from one another and help to create a more diverse and vibrant community.”

Another option is to create more workforce housing. This could be accomplished by creating more affordable housing units, as well as providing incentives for developers to build housing for working people. This could include providing tax credits, grants or other incentives for developers to build housing for working people. Finally, local governments could create incentives for businesses to provide housing for their employees. This could include providing tax credits for businesses that provide housing for their employees or providing incentives for businesses to create affordable housing.

Offset Rising Rent Trends

Rent trends have been on a steady incline for many years now, leaving many people struggling to find affordable housing. Northern stated how this has been especially true in metropolitan areas, where “the cost of living is higher and the availability of affordable housing is limited.” With rent prices continuing to rise, the need for affordable housing has become even more pressing.

For those who may not be able to afford market-rate rent, there are a few options. Government-subsidized housing programs can help those with low incomes and few resources. Such programs are often available through local housing authorities and are designed to provide safe and affordable housing to those who qualify. For those who do not qualify for government assistance, there are still a few options available.

Nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity, provide housing to those who cannot afford market-rate rent. “Additionally, it is often possible to find apartments or houses that are owned by private landlords, who may be willing to offer discounted rent prices to those in need,” Northern said.

The rising rent trend is a sign of the times, and unfortunately, many people are being forced to look for alternative housing solutions. Those who need affordable housing should take advantage of the programs and assistance available to them so they can find a safe and secure haven. Having more affordable housing options in 2023 can help to alleviate some of these issues. Affordable housing can help people save money and to put it towards other necessities. It can also help to stabilize neighborhoods and provide economic opportunities for people who otherwise would not be able to afford to live in certain areas. Northern makes it clear: “We must collaborate and advocate now for a better tomorrow for all.”