Last month was National Homeownership Month and the media and our elected officials have highlighted issues related to affordable homeownership. I think it’s important to discuss what affordable homeownership means and how it impacts our community.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing should cost no more than 30 percent of a household’s income. Many homeowners in our community spend much more, making them ‘housing cost-burdened’ and limiting what they have left to spend on other needs, such as transportation, energy costs, food, health care, and more.
For example, many seniors in our community own their homes (and have for many years), and too many of them are cost-burdened and/or low-income. According to U.S. Census data, 71.3 percent of residents 65-plus in Saratoga County own their own homes. However, 23.5 percent of these seniors are cost-burdened and 6.8 percent are below the poverty level.
Many senior homeowners are at risk of losing their homes due to the cost of a needed repair or home maintenance, such as replacing a furnace or roof. They face unique challenges because they will likely need accessibility modifications to make it possible for them to age-in-place safely, such as installing a wheelchair ramp, grab bars, or improved lighting. These modifications can be expensive and out-of-reach for homeowners who are already cost-burdened.
Rebuilding Together Saratoga County provides repairs and accessibility modifications, at no cost to the homeowner, and many of the clients served are seniors. While National Homeownership Month only comes around once a year, we need to continue to focus on programs that preserve affordable homeownership, like those offered by Rebuilding Together, so indi- viduals and families in our community can remain safely and independently in their own homes.
Executive Director Rebuilding Together Saratoga County