IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2001

Mayors Join with Bankers, Builders to Form the Coalition for Affordable Rental Housing
Statement of
The Honorable Donald L. Plusquellic
Mayor of Akron, OH
On behalf of The United States Conference of Mayors

Washington, DC -- "Millions of families in America’s cities are facing an affordable housing crisis. Last month the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Housing Conference did a preliminary review of recently released Census data and found that the number of middle income families facing a critical housing need grew 38 percent between 1997 and 1999. These are families earning between 50 and 120 percent of the median income. When you look at the upper end of this bracket—families earning between 80 and 120 percent of the median—they’ve been hit even harder; the portion of this group facing a critical housing need grew by 74 percent in the same time period.

"Yet, in the past four years, in my own city for example, there have been no rental housing units produced by FHA-insured loans. Zero. Akron isn’t alone—dozens of cities across the nation face similar crises. Clearly, there must be an immediate, reasonable, nationwide response to this crisis. And that’s the primary mission of the Coalition for Affordable Rental Housing.

"The coalition will also work on finding solutions to the affordable housing crisis, and removing barriers to the production of affordable rental housing. For example, one barrier to increased production of affordable multifamily rental housing units is the artificially low FHA loan limits for multifamily housing. Coupled with rising construction and other costs, we’re in a situation where, in order to build multifamily housing, builders must charge rents that the very families we’re trying to reach can’t afford. What an FHA increase would mean for my city, and cities across the nation, would be increased construction or rehabilitation of thousands of properties around the country. This change will help thousands of working families meet their housing needs.

"Our coalition is committed to working with policy-makers, housing advocates and other concerned parties in developing solutions to our nation’s affordable housing crisis. This problem deserves to be a national policy priority, and we intend to make it one."

Contacts: David Gatton or Jubi Headley, (202) 293-7330

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

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©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors