Talk of the Town: What our leaders need to hear.

From DC to LA, people have been talking about housing problems all week.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that in 2010, median household income declined and the nation’s poverty rate increased 14.3%. In 2010, there were 46.2 million people in poverty, making 2010’s figures the fourth consecutive increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. Press nationwide spotlighted these alarming figures, pointing out as USA Today did, that “a typical U.S. family got poorer during the past 10 years in the first decade-long income decline in at least a half-century.”

These reports of increased poverty were paired with other reports revealing housing prices falling nationally and foreclosures spiking in the month of August. The Washington Post and news outlets across the country reported on the drastic increases in foreclosure last month. 55% increase in California, 46% increase in Indiana, 42% in New Jersey… Augusts’ dramatic increase in foreclosure filings represents the biggest month-over-month increase since 2007.

As Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said for Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, “Housing is the story.” Unfortunately all this talk doesn’t seem to be making its way out of the field, past the press, and into the conversations of the President and Members of Congress.

The Los Angeles Times summed it up well:

More than four years after the sector’s initial collapse, housing has become the economy’s silent killer. But Obama, in unveiling his proposed $447-billion package, said little more on the issue than that he would help ‘responsible homeowners’ refinance their mortgages.

Everyone has their opinions on how our housing woes should be addressed and resolved, but we at NLIHC know one thing for sure. The National Housing Trust Fund should have been included in President Obama’s jobs plan, but the Administration failed to provide that funding which would help alleviate some of the housing and economic troubles that millions of Americans are facing. As stated in a letter to White House officials from forty-four national organizations:

Once funded, the National Housing Trust Fund will produce, rehabilitate, preserve, and operate rental housing that is affordable for households with incomes at or below 30% of the area median (extremely low income). Every $10 billion spent through the National Housing Trust Fund will create 122,000 new jobs in the construction trades and 30,000 new ongoing jobs in the operation of the rental housing.

The National Housing Trust Fund will help to end homelessness, provide jobs, and fill the gap of available affordable housing for Americans nationwide. With widespread reports highlighting the need for all of those things, we are shocked that the Administration did not grant the National Housing Trust Fund the funding to get to work. There are still other potential sources of funding for the NHTF, but the White House and Congress need to listen and respond to what people across the country are talking about.

And we want to hear from you too! Do you think the Administration should have addressed housing more in its jobs proposal? How do you think Members of Congress should respond to the distressing reports on poverty and foreclosure rates? Are you satisfied with how our nation’s housing problems are being handled by Washington?

Let us know and come back Monday where we can continue this conversation until we get some answers…

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