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Why Preserve Affordable Housing?

As the current home foreclosure crisis continues to unfold, and credit remains tight, stable rental housing will become ever more important to workers who are critical to our communities, including teachers, police, fire fighters, and other service providers.

One third of our nation’s households across the income spectrum live in rental housing – some from choice and some from necessity. It is a critical part of any community’s healthy housing mix, ensuring diversity, opportunity and a labor force for essential community services.


Preserving affordable housing is the obvious first step to meet our country’s rental supply needs. For every new affordable apartment created, two are lost due to deterioration, abandonment or conversion to more expensive housing. Without preserving existing affordable housing, we fall two steps back for every step we take forward.

Preserving affordable housing is more cost effective and easier than new construction. Rehabilitating an existing affordable apartment can cost one-third to one-half less than building a new apartment. Restrictive land use regulations common in many communities make it difficult to build rental housing affordable to very low income families and seniors. Replacing every lost affordable apartment is often unrealistic.

Preserving affordable housing is key to creating equitable, sustainable communities. In order to thrive, families need housing in healthy neighborhoods with low crime rates, access to quality education, meaningful job opportunities and affordable and reliable transportation options. Safeguarding affordable housing in these communities is essential for maintaining access to these vital opportunities.
Preserving affordable housing is fundamentally green. Preserving affordable housing saves energy in four primary ways- in reusing an existing building, in using existing infrastructure, in preserving green space, and in reducing household energy use.
Preserving affordable housing stabilizes neighborhoods.In distressed neighborhoods, preserving affordable housing can catalyze the revitalization of an entire community. Saving decent, affordable housing means saving a critical community asset. It also signals the reversal of years of neglect and disinvestment and can spark the public-private investment that is essential for community revitalization.