The COVID-19 pandemic redefined “home” for many Americans and underscored the bedrock necessity of affordable housing for seniors, families and essential workers. As the pandemic shifts from crisis to chronic, investors, community leaders and housing advocates say they intend to make the most of the chance to permanently elevate the case for affordable housing even as economic metrics are starting to shift.
The public and policymakers appear to be unflagging in their understanding and support for workforce housing, especially for essential workers, recognizing its pivotal role in community operations, said Brian Coffee, senior director for community investment capital for Synovus Bank in Birmingham, Alabama.
“We’re seeing statistics from our developers across the country that their portfolios are holding up well,” he said. “There’s a growing sense that affordable housing is a stable investment class for banks and insurance companies; even in the 2008 – 2009 recession, it held up well.”
A recession precipitated by a pandemic is new territory and traditional patterns likely will face unanticipated factors, especially as states and municipalities enter an excruciating budget cycle said Coffee. For instance, it’s possible that housing tax credits and other supports for affordable housing could be sacrificed or functionally negated by property tax increases.
State and local officials concur: the unusual confluence of public health, faltering businesses of all sizes and dramatically different use of public services, such as transportation, will almost surely force creative strategies for expanding affordable housing.
Entering the fourth quarter of a chaotic year, consumers appeared to be managing their finances with common sense, as much as they could. The influx of cash to consumers early in the pandemic kept rent payments flowing, all agree. Overall consumer debt edged down by 1% in the second quarter, according to the Experian Consumer Sentiment Index.