For the last 50 years, UnidosUS has worked to empower Latinos to contribute to our nation’s prosperity and share in its economic opportunities. We believe the stability and security provided by a good home is an important building block for our community to thrive: children can focus at school, workers can concentrate on the job, and families can go to sleep at night with a roof over their heads. For those reasons, we joined more than a dozen national organizations to launch the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign. Too many hardworking families struggle to afford housing and it will take all sectors of society, including the education, health and civil rights communities, to ensure that more Americans, including Latinos, have a place to call home.
As for most Americans, Latino wealth is tied to the value of the home. Homeowners have seen the value of their homes rise, and in turn their home equity, over the last 10 years. In 2016, Latino homeowners saw their wealth grow. However, the majority of Latinos rent a home, and therefore haven’t benefited from these gains. In fact, families who rent saw their wealth plummet. Despite the increasing wealth divide between homeowners and renters, not everyone aspires to own a home. Having an affordable rental home can be a sensible option for families to cover the cost of life’s necessities and save for the long run.
Photo courtesy of UnidosUS
Unfortunately, many Latino families who rent face barriers to saving money and building wealth because of the rising cost of rent and a lack of affordable rental housing where they live. More than half of Latino renters are burdened by housing costs, and many live in areas lacking quality affordable housing so they end up spending 50% of their income on rent. Latino renters are more likely to spend up to one-half of their income on rent than White renters and renters overall. Many Latino families earning a low or modest income would not be able to cover the cost of rent and the family’s necessities without the help of federal housing programs, such as rental assistance.
Federal housing programs that keep rental housing affordable serve as important resources for the Latino community. In 2016, more than 700,000 Latinos benefited from federal rental assistance. This assistance also helped more than 700,000 Latinos get out of poverty in 2015, including nearly 270,000 Latino children. According to a UnidosUS poll, 88% of respondents said making rental housing more affordable should be a federal government priority.
UnidosUS looks forward to working with a diverse group of organizations to achieve the far-reaching goal of making a stable, affordable home available to every American. Our cooperative advocacy begins with experiences shared at the national level while we continue to support the important work to break down barriers in states. These simultaneous efforts strive to ensure that federal housing programs effectively reach and serve American families across the country.