Warm Hands Warm Hearts

heart_snow_arms_mittens_11095_1680x1050RCAP Solutions is collecting hats, mittens, gloves and scarves throughout the month of November for families in need.

Your generous donation will provide local children and families in our SafeStep domestic violence housing program with a little extra warmth this holiday season.

Donated items can be handmade or purchased.

All items will be distributed to local families in early December.

For more information, contact Emily Farrand, Chief Human Resources Officer, 978-630-6647, efarrand@rcapsolutions.org.

 

Items can be donated at the following locations:

Gardner Office: 205 School Street, Gardner, MA (4th Floor)

Worcester Office: 12 East Worcester Street, Worcester, MA (2nd Floor)

Property Manager Office at any of our properties:

Atwood Acres: 66 Dudley Road, Townsend, MA

Bolton Country Manor: 600 Main St., Bolton, MA

Cottage Street Apartments: 198 Harrington St., B5, Athol, MA

Groton Commons: 74 Willowdale Road, Groton, MA

Hapgood Apartments: 25 Cheney Street, Athol, MA

Hubbardston House Apartments: 1 Old Princeton Road Cut-Off, Hubbardston, MA

New Horizons Apartments: 20 Benson Ave., Worcester, MA

Rockdale House Apartments: 63 School St., Northbridge, MA

Slater Estates: 96 Slater Street, Webster, MA

Townsend Woods: 70 Dudley Road, Townsend, MA

American Renters Still Cannot Afford Rent Nationwide

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On March 24, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released Out of Reach 2014. This is the 25th anniversary of Out of Reach. The first Out of Reach was published in 1989.

This year, the national two-bedroom Housing Wage of $18.92. The Housing Wage represents the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn in order to afford a modest rental home while spending no more than 30% of their income toward housing costs. This means that nationally a household must have income of least $39,360 a year in order to afford a two-bedroom unit at the Fair Market Rent (FMR) of $984 per month.

Wages of renters continue to fall short of housing costs. The average renter in the U.S. earns $14.64, $4.28 less than the national two-bedroom Housing Wage and fifty-one cents less than the one-bedroom Housing Wage of $15.15.

Extremely low income (ELI) households, those with incomes of 30% or less of the area median (AMI), comprise one out of every four renters, and fare even worse when seeking affordable housing. ELI renter households are only able to afford rents of $493 a month, far less than the two-bedroom FMR of $984 and the one-bedroom FMR of $788.

A full time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour can afford just $377 per month in rent. A minimum wage earner would need to work 104 hours per week, or have 2.6 jobs earning the minimum wage, to afford a two-bedroom rental unit. While Congress and some states are considering raising the wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over the next three-and-a-half years, this wage would still fall short of the Housing Wage of $18.92. Housing will still be out of reach for low wage workers in every state in the nation.

While the national data illustrate the gap between what people earn and what housing costs, the data that are the most useful for housing advocates are those that tell the state and local story. The five states with the highest two-bedroom Housing Wage are: Hawaii ($31.54); District of Columbia ($28.25); California ($26.04); Maryland ($24.94); and New Jersey ($24.92).

Massachusetts Numbers:

In Massachusetts, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,252. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities – without paying more than 30% of income on housing – a household must earn $4,174 monthly or $50,090 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $24.08.

In Massachusetts, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $8.00. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 120 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or a household must include 3.0 minimum wage earners working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

In Massachusetts, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $17.47. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 55 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 1.4 workers earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

The report was released in a press conference with NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley, NLIHC Research Analyst Althea Arnold, and Director of Housing Policy at Consumer Federation of America and former president of NLIHC, Barry Zigas. Mr. Zigas headed NLIHC in 1989 when the first Out of Reach was issued. He discussed the origins of the report. Ms. Crowley emphasized the importance of increasing the affordable housing stock for low income renters through an adequately funded National Housing Trust Fund.

As has been the case each year, Out of Reach attracts considerable media coverage. In the week of its release this year, the report was covered by the Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, CNN, and dozens of state and local print, television, and radio outlets.

Out of Reach 2014 can be found at http://www.nlihc.org/oor/2014
To view NLIHC’s press release on the report, go to: http://nlihc.org/press/releases/4214

Massachusetts State Report: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/2014-OOR-MA.pdf

Understanding the Challenges and Solutions to Aging in Place

001_seniorsThe following is from a featured article in PD&R EDGE NEWS, an online publication from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development:

Over the next 40 years, the population of Americans over age 65 is expected to double from 40 to 80 million, and the population over age 85 is expected to more than triple from 6 to 20 million. Complicating these demographic trends is the desire of most elderly Americans to “age in place,” or stay in their own homes and communities as they age. On January 9, 2013, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research convened a panel of experts to discuss these looming demographic changes, their implications for American society, and models that enable elderly Americans to access the services necessary to successfully age in place.

An important context for the discussion was provided by panelist and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, who, like many Americans, approaches the subject through the lens of his own experiences with his parents. “My mother is 89 years old and lives in the home she and my dad bought 2 years before I was born,” said Cisneros. After some time spent in a nursing facility, his mother’s return home was accompanied by an “almost a palpable expression of peace and joy as she walked through the house.” For most Americans, the prospect of aging in place is not an esoteric policy discussion; instead, it strikes an intensely personal chord, touching on life, death, and the importance of family. Given the visceral connection most of us have to our homes and communities, institutions at the local, state, and the federal levels must tackle the challenges of our nation’s aging population and develop solutions that permit people to comfortably age in place.

Obstacles to Aging in Place

Although most Americans want to age in place, the reality, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services senior policy analyst James Toews, is that too many individuals enter long-term care institutions unnecessarily or prematurely. Homes and communities frequently are not designed to address the needs of seniors. Many seniors need assistance performing activities of daily living and live in environments that do not accommodate their functional limitations.

Following a catastrophic health event, 25 percent of elderly Americans who temporarily enter a nursing home will find it too difficult to leave. Toews identifies caregiver burnout as one of the primary barriers to aging at home — in the United States, family members provide about 85 percent of all caregiving. These family members may be unable or ill-equipped to provide the complex medical procedures their elderly relatives need, and the medical community offers them little support. In fact, this lack of support is a more significant factor in caregiver burnout than the complexity of the procedures.

RCAP Solutions provides a comprehensive array of elder service programs which can assist our aging population and those who are disabled.  Our Home Modification Loan Program provides financing to disabled persons and their families, enabling individuals to remain independent and make structural improvements affecting the safety of individuals and caregivers.  For more information, please click here.

To see the entire article please click here.

 

Families Living Doubled-Up Tripled from 2003 to 2009

 

Housing

A new report released by HUD analyzes data from the American Housing Survey (AHS) and examines trends in household composition. Analysis of Trends in Household Composition Using American Housing Survey Data was prepared for HUD by Frederick J. Eggers and Fouad Moumen of Econometrica, Inc. Drawing upon AHS data collected between 2003 and 2009, Eggers and Moumen found that the number of households composed of multiple subfamilies tripled between 2003 and 2009, from 199,000 to 622,000. Additionally, the number of households containing a relative other than a spouse or a child under 18 rose by 1.6 million during the same time period.

The study defined doubled-up households as households containing a member other than a spouse, or containing an adult child over age 18 or 21. Overall, adult children over the age of 21 were the most common contributors to doubled-up households. Between 2003 and 2009, the percentage of doubled-up households with a child over 21 increased from 47.4% in 2003 to 50.5% in 2009. Doubled-up households containing a grandchild also increased between 2003 and 2009, from 12.7% to 14.1%.

According to study findings, economic conditions have contributed to the rise of adult children living at home. Between 2003 and 2009, the percentage of adult children with jobs in doubled-up households fell from 60% to 57%. The percentage of adult children reporting salaries, wages or self-employment income also declined. The authors conclude that economic hardship is driving household composition patterns, and further research is needed to determine the causes behind the rise of doubled-up households. A 2013 AHS module may provide more data on the links between doubled up households and homelessness.

View Analysis of Trends in Household Composition Using American Housing Survey Data at: http://bit.ly/1e5yQ2g

 

Soaring rents are putting many families in peril

Soaring rents are putting many families in peril

Harvard study finds some in Mass., US spend half of income on housing

By Megan Woolhouse

 

Rapidly rising rents in Massachusetts and across the country are making housing unaffordable for a significant share of families and pushing many into homelessness, according to a study released Monday by Harvard University.

Massachusetts has the sixth-highest median rent in the nation as the supply of rental housing has failed to keep up with the surge in renters following the recent housing collapse and foreclosure crisis, according to the study from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. More than one in four renters here and nationally must spend more than half their income on their housing, a level the report described as “unimaginable just a decade ago.”

“These are troubling trends,” said Eric Belsky, executive director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “In this kind of situation, you worry about people’s ability to get into any kind of rental housing.”

The median rent in Massachusetts has climbed to $1,000 a month, according to the study. Hawaii had the highest median rent, $1,300, followed by Washington, D.C., at just below $1,200. And while median rents nationally have risen 7 percent to $861 a month in 2012 from $802 in 2000, median renters’ incomes have fallen from $3,106 to $2,711 in the same period, the report said.

Another study of the local housing market, released in October, found that rents in Greater Boston were the third highest among the nation’s metropolitan areas. Rents in Greater Boston averaged $1,800, compared to $1,300 a decade earlier, according to the study by Northeastern University researchers.

The climbing costs of rental housing are falling most heavily on the poor. In general, housing specialists say, paying more than one-third of income in rent can lead to other financial burdens for families. But nationally, more than 70 percent of families earning less than $15,000 a year pay more than half their income in rent, according to the Harvard study, compared to less than 1 percent of households earning $75,000 a year or more.

As rising rents take bigger shares of income, federal and state governments, including Massachusetts, have cut funding for housing subsidies, such as the federal Section 8 voucher program.

The result, housing advocates say, has been rising homelessness in states with fast-rising rents. A recent Department of Housing and Urban Development report said the number of homeless people in shelters and living on streets in Massachusetts has risen 14 percent since 2010 to nearly 20,000 in January 2013, even as homelessness declined nationally.

In Massachusetts, the number of families in the state’s emergency shelter system rose to an all- time high last month, averaging more than 4,000 a night. The state spent a record $46 million last fiscal year to house families in need of emergency assistance in motels, up from about $1 million in 2008.

Angela Rascoe, 46, had to give up her Mattapan apartment in June, when she became sick, lost her job as a nanny, and could no longer afford the rent of $1,650 a month. She has since lived in emergency shelters, including a motel in Saugus, with her 18-year-old daughter, because she cannot find another apartment she can afford on her disability check.

They are now staying in a state-funded shelter in Mattapan, but the future is uncertain. She has applied for subsidized housing programs offered by the city and state, but waiting lists are years-long.

“I’ve never ever been in a situation like this where I had to go and ask for help,” she said. “It’s extremely hard.”

John Drew, executive director of Action for Boston Community Development, a nonprofit social service agency, said the situation is only likely to get harder for Rascoe and other low- and moderate-income families. As the influx of highly paid technology, biotechnology, and other professionals drive housing prices higher, he said, the apartment building boom in the city is mainly adding luxury units, rather than affordable homes.

“Everyone is sitting back and watching the market-driven economy,” Drew said. “There is no housing policy. Nothing that leads you to feel comfortable at all, to say, ‘We have a way out of here.’ ”

State officials defend their policy efforts, calling them comprehensive but constrained by funding limitations. Massachusetts is one of four states to offer state-subsidized public housing, and this year alone increased the number of units the program funds by 3,000, said Aaron Gornstein, state’s undersecretary for housing.

The state also has built or is in the process of building 4,500 affordable rental units this year, Gornstein said. Earlier this month, Governor Deval Patrick signed a $1.4 billion bonding bill to finance the rehabilitation and construction of more public and affordable housing.

“We just have to keep focusing on helping families access affordable housing with the resources we have,” Gornstein said, “and make the best use of the existing resources that the Legislature has provided to us.”

Kelly Turley, director of legislative advocacy for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, said the state has done more than many others to address the need for affordable housing, but rising rents, wage stagnation, and stubbornly high unemployment have outstripped those efforts.

“The state has made unprecedented investments in housing and homelessness prevention and emergency services,” she said, “but at the same time, it’s not enough to match the need to address the gap between incomes and what it costs to live in Massachusetts.”

Libby Hayes, executive director of Homes for Families, a Boston advocacy group, said the state’s efforts have been to put a “Band-Aid on a big gaping wound.” Patrick, she added, has not aggressively addressed the issue as a rising tide of families fill state shelters and motels.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megan.woolhouse@globe.com.

Article can be accessed here: http://b.globe.com/19cxuAX