Affordable Housing

In Wilmette, Illinois, a nonprofit advocacy group has launched an online petition to get the village board to work with the developer of a 94-unit apartment building to dedicate nine units as affordable rentals. The developer has already voluntarily dedicated $80,000 to the township’s housing assistance program, but the advocacy group is hopeful that the village board will convince the for-profit developer to set aside the apartments in place of the donation.

The Wilmette Cares petition is one of many valiant efforts of local organizations to fight for affordable housing, and stands in contrast to the minimal support for affordable housing from the federal level and state government funding that’s inconsistent at best. The silence about affordable housing from national political candidates is deafening.

The next time you hear a national politician talk about affordable housing, please let Nonprofit Quarterly know. For some reason, housing is the issue that is never uttered. The idea that the nation should be producing and maintaining sufficient quantities of decent, safe, affordable housing for low-income people is just not the place where politicians feel they should invest any nuggets of their political capital. Our guess is that it relates to the lobbying of the real estate industry, which has hardly been open to regulatory reform that could shift the nation’s emphasis toward generating more affordable housing or finding means of making more of the nation’s housing permanently affordable. At the federal level, there’s no way that nonprofit lobbying for affordable housing compares to the lobbying of the for-profit real estate industry:

Annual Federal Lobbying on Real Estate

Year

Total Industry Lobbying

Lobbying by National Assn. of Realtors

2014

(through July 28)

$42,750,883

$23,644,253

2013

$80,839,985

$38,584,580

2012

$81,109,106

$41,464,580

2011

$66,096,804

$22,355,463