Welfare services such as low-income housing projects aim to change the lives of Americans. Housing is rarely available for households leaving welfare systems, but low-income housing is so limited to a handful. Such accommodation projects do not operate on their own, since they impact the community and the residents in the neighbourhood. These consequences must be weighed by the planners before settling on the site of their low-income housing developments. However, these initiatives have transformed the lives of people who were formerly homeless or have not been able to pay rent for other housing facilities. Despite these effects, low income housing has been advanced as one of the main ways to provide affordable housing facilities for people that earn minimum wages. An analysis of current literature about the subject reveals that places are affected in terms of crime, property values, while people are affected in term of health, education, as well as public service dependence.
Effects on Impoverished Places
Low income housing changes the outlook of impoverished places, but this is not without its effect on surrounding property values. Massey et al note that the effect of low cost housing on property values depends on various factors. Firstly, whether the project replaces existing blighted structures or is constructed on vacant land. Secondly, the extent of housing concentration is also another factor, and the surrounding neighborhood (28). Impoverished places are known for high housing concentration and the presence of blighted structures that can be replaced by low income projects. The effect of these projects in such a case is that they will lead to increase in value of surrounding property. However, this is not always the case as some researchers have found out that the development of the low income housing projects may lead to decrease in surrounding property values. For example, in cases where the project in developed in an impoverished area that has a high housing concentration, the value of other property. This is based on the rationale that the impoverished houses cannot be compared to the new low income housing structure which provides alternative housing for minimum wage individual. In general, the effects of low income housing on property values can be two-fold; either increase or decrease the value.
At the same time, low income housing has also been found to affect the crime rate in an area. Impoverished areas are known for the high crimes rates, and there is always a fear that development of low income housing facilities will lead to increase in crime. Notably, Albright et al suggest that impoverished areas face an increase rather than decrease of crime due to development of low income housing. Albright et al cite the case of increased homicide rates which are self-contained in the houses constructed (4). The concentration of low income houses in a given place in the impoverished neighborhoods serves as a magnet to offenders such as armed robbers who may want to steal from the houses. However, the crime rate in the impoverished areas can also reduce due to the construction of the low income housing facilities. People who move to the newly constructed structures note that they feel safer due to the facilities provided in the houses. For example, parents can let their children play without worrying that they may get shot during gang violence in the impoverished area (Bennett et al 79). Indeed, the effect of low income housing on crime is that there can be an increase or decrease in crime rates.
Effects on People
Housing is contended to be a significant social determinant of physical and mental health as well as well-being. Low-income housing reduces crowding and enables more household available to pay for healthy foods, health care thus leading to better health outcomes for individuals. Further, the low-income housing also promotes mental health by limiting stressors that have to do with a financial burden as well as frequent moves and providing an escape from various abusive environments. Firstly, regarding food consumption, low-income housing improves health outcomes of individuals by freeing up resources for nutritious food as well as health care expenditures. It is evident that families that are involved in paying excessive sums of their earnings for housing remain with meager resources for other basic needs including medical insurance, food, as well as healthcare. Therefore low-income housing ensures families can spend more of their resources on food and better healthcare services.
According to Maqbool, Viveiros, and Ault, low-income housing reduces cases of stress in the individual through providing families with greater residential stability. Various studies contend that homeless children are always at a risk of having mental disorders, poor cognitive developments, depression, and developmental delays. Children with stable housing, on the other hand, are associated with better mental health (3). Additionally, low-income housing protects individuals from various impacts of poor quality housing. When individuals have no access to low-income housing, they are compelled to rely on substandard housing that puts them at a risk of contracting diseases including asthma and lead poisoning and sometimes accidental injuries. Therefore, low-income housing shields families from unsafe conditions while reducing the risk of accidental burns and injuries.
Brennan points out that low-income housing offer children with enhanced chances for educational success. Low-income housing reduces the frequency of undesirable moves that lead to children to have a disruption in their home life as well as educational instruction. The disruptions can be classified into two; school mobility and residential mobility. The former has to do with shifting of school without changing the area of residence while the latter has to with shifting to a new home without changing the learning institution. Low-income housing enables families and their children to attain long-term stability. Consequently, stable homes contribute to better educational outcomes (2). Additionally, low-income housing enables children and their families to move into communities that have stronger school systems. Children in low-income housing, particularly those acquiring section 8 housing vouchers live in good neighborhoods that discourage school absenteeism. Further, low-income housing is often accompanied by policies that 0revitalize neighborhoods while providing good schools for children living in concentrated poverty.
Further, low-income housing reduces overcrowding and housing-related stress among children that lead to poor educational outcomes. It is evident that overcrowding has an association with reduced academic performance. Children whose families live in overcrowded housing are plagued with reading difficulties and low math grades. Ultimately, low-income housing helps in reducing economic reasons that are related to overcrowding thus enabling families to guide their children toward educational achievement. Moreover, children whose families have access to low-income housing can avoid homelessness. Recent studies have asserted that children experiencing homelessness are faced with several educational barriers including strenuous access to preschool as head start procedures. These hard living conditions hinder cognitive development. Therefore, low-income housing helps children avoid disruptions associated with homelessness thus improving educational outcomes.
Additionally, low income housing has also been found to impact of public service dependence. The construction on low income housing facilities reduces the number of people that are homeless. Although the margins may be minimal, public service dependence of homeless people reduces. According to Agnew, notes that low income housing resulted to less incarceration of people in impoverished area, and this reduces public spending (25). Once these people are placed in permanent facilities in the form of low income housing, they can focus on other income generating activities that will help them and their families. In essence, low income housing not only benefits the poor people but also the government.
Conclusively, low income housing has significant effects on impoverished areas as well as people. The effects on the impoverished places are two fold that is they are both negative and positive. In terms of places, the property values of surrounding structures can either increase or decrease depending on the various factors that have been examined in this paper. Further, the crime rates can also increase or reduce due to low income housing. Low-income housing has a positive impact on the lives of several families. The low-income housing ensures stable as well as supportive settings that enhance their efforts of teachers, students and other curriculum developers leading to student achievement. The low-income housing also impacts the health of people no matter the age, through providing affordable housing; families can acquire nutritional foods, get medical cover and seek better medical services.
Agnew, Spencer. “The Impact of Affordable Housing on Communities and Households.” Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Research and Evaluation Unit, nd http://www. mhponline. org/files/AffordableHousingImpact-CommunitiesandHouseholds. pdf (2010). [Accessed March 8, 2017].
Albright, Len, Elizabeth S. Derickson, and Douglas S. Massey. “Do affordable housing projects harm suburban communities? Crime, property values, and taxes in Mount Laurel, NJ.” City & community 12.2 (2013): 89-112.
Bennett, Larry, Janet L. Smith, and Patricia A. Wright. Where are poor people to live?: Transforming public housing communities. Routledge, 2015.
Brennan, Maya. “The impacts of affordable housing on education: A research summary.” Washington, DC: Center for Housing Policy and National Housing Conference. 2011.
Massey, Douglas S., et al. Climbing Mount Laurel: The struggle for affordable housing and social mobility in an American suburb. Princeton University Press, 2013.
Maqbool, Nabihah, Mindy Ault, and Janet Viveiros. The impacts of affordable housing on health: A research summary. Center for Housing Policy, 2015.