WASHINGTON, DC-While delivering a speech entitled “Renewing America’s Communities, Homeownership: Myth vs. Reality” at the National Press Club last week, US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson told a crowd of housing industry leaders that, “rental housing is affordable and plentiful.” The National Low Income Housing Coalition and other housing advocacy organizations beg to differ.

NLIHC has pointed to a recent university report, as well as HUD’s own materials, to highlight the gross inaccuracy of Jackson’s statement. In its State of the Nation’s Housing Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, concludes that, “In addition to widespread affordability problems, crowding is on the increase, some 2.5 million to 3.5 million people are homeless at some point in the year, and nearly two million households still live in severely inadequate units.”

Further supporting NLIHC’s contention that Jackson’s remark is erroneous, HUD finds in its most recent Worst Case Housing Needs report, released in January 2004, that: “Shortages remained most severe for units affordable to renters with extremely low incomes, with only 42 units affordable and available in 2001 for every 100 renters with incomes below 30% of area median income. The number of units affordable to renters with incomes below 50% of AMI, however, fell by a statistically significant 4% between 1999 and 2001, thus slightly worsening shortages of units affordable in this income range.”

NLIHC and other housing organizations do not intend to let the statement slide. “We’ll be sending him a letter saying ‘here are the facts, and how would you reconcile that with what you said?’, ” NLIHC president Sheila Crowley tells GlobeSt.com. She adds that she and her fellow signatories do not expect a response.

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