A Guide to Affordable Housing for Millennials


This post is sponsored by MSHDA. All opinions are my own.

As you begin to read this blog post, I want you to think of a few things. Where do you live? What decisions did you make when you signed your lease or bought your house? Or, do you still live at home with your parents?

After high school and college, we’re faced with a big decision: deciding where to live and work after graduating. No matter what your living situation is like right now, it’s important to know about affordable housing and the options that are available to you. So, what is affordable housing? I’m going to break it down for you in today’s post.

When you think of the word affordable, you might define it as cost-effective, economical or low-cost. When you think of the word housing, you might define it as a place to live, a residence or a simply as a home/house. When you put those two words together and keep their meaning in mind, you can reach a strong conclusion as to what affordable housing is, but I’m going to make it even more clear for you. If you think of your income and how much money you put toward your housing costs each year, affordable housing is considered as paying no more than 30 percent of your income for housing costs. Housing costs can include anything from rent to insurance and utilities.

Chances are you’ve passed an affordable housing complex in your city or town before. In most cases, affordable housing is attractive, well-maintained and designed to fit the character of a local community in size and style. Typically, an affordable housing property is one that was built using a tax subsidy and it’s required to provide rental options for low-income families.

Affordable housing is important because it stabilizes families, improves economic mobility, promotes socioeconomic diversity within neighborhoods, reduces poverty and homelessness, positively impacts health outcomes and strengthens the economy. These are all positive reasons as to why affordable housing is a great solution for our communities and those that need a low-cost option for having a roof over their head. When it comes to building affordable housing, these dwellings must abide by the same building restrictions and design standards as market-rate housing. Sometimes additional restrictions are put in place and there are higher standards for building affordable housing since it’s often funded in part with public money.

So, when it comes to affordable housing, who needs it? Like I mentioned earlier, anyone that is cost burdened and spends more than 30 percent of their income on housing would be a good candidate for an affordable housing solution. Think about it: monthly expenses like food, transportation or medical costs add up. Add housing costs into the mix and your income could be stretched pretty thin depending on what your take home pay is. That’s why it’s so important to be cognizant of your monthly expenses when choosing a place to live.

When deciding where to live, you should consider some key factors such as affordability, location and community, mortgage or monthly housing payment and taxes, employment opportunities or potential commute time and proximity to retailers, local recreation areas and entertainment options.

When my husband and I were getting ready to purchase our first home, we took all of the things above into consideration. Since we were fairly young, we wanted to make sure we bought a property that was affordable. At the time when we were looking for a house, we had both just graduated from college and started our entry-level jobs. We didn’t want all of our income to go toward our home. Instead, we wanted our income to be used toward multiple things, with our home just being one thing our incomes covered.

Now that we’ve lived in our home for a few years, we’ve been able to establish a great system when it comes to paying for all of our housing necessities like utilities, insurance and other monthly fees. When owning a home or renting an apartment, there are a lot of things to pay for, so ensuring you live somewhere that’s affordable and easy on your wallet will have a significant impact on your finances and your ability to make your income stretch into other areas of your life. 

Since I live in Michigan, I have several resources available to me through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). MSHDA is the go-to place for information on anything related to owning, renting or buying a home. There are even resources for rental developers and lenders or for people that are experiencing homeless.

There is definitely a need for affordable housing in Michigan. Affordable housing helps to replace or rehabilitate deteriorated buildings and it attracts new investment to the area by encouraging nearby owners to reinvest in the community. Affordable housing also enables low-paid workers to pursue education and training, leading to higher-paying careers, which can then allow them to establish roots in the community. Those that are the most vulnerable in our community, such as seniors or those that are disabled, can benefit from affordable housing since it may include support services and it’s cost-effective. Furthermore, affordable housing supports local jobs and creates new ones in the construction and service industries thanks to large federal, state and private subsides that the community receives.

Having affordable housing options in your local area is beneficial because it allows your community to grow and thrive. Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe and cost-effective home, which is why affordable housing programs are a great way to provide living quarters to those that need them most. Thanks to affordable housing, your community and the people that live in it can reach their full potential.

Before reading this blog post, did you know what affordable housing was? What are your thoughts on affordable housing and the way it can benefit our local communities? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!