KOKOMO — The lack of affordable housing is the biggest obstacle impacting Hoosiers in need of a place to call home, according to U.S. Senator Todd Young.
Young (R-IND) has three policy proposals he hopes will address the issue.
- The Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which would revitalize distressed neighborhoods by creating a tax credit for building and renovating homes in blighted areas.
- The Yes In My Backyard Act, which would eliminate barriers to much-needed housing by requiring transparency in local land use, zoning and housing decisions.
- The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which would improve and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, providing an additional 44,500 units in Indiana alone.
Young feels his policies will increase housing stock, lower costs and revitalize distressed neighborhoods.
"The Yes in My BackYard Act and the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act would take blighted properties and create a mechanism to crowd in private investment and turn those into housing stock so people have affordable housing options, " Young said.
Young made stops in both Indianapolis and Kokomo Wednesday, and will be making a stop in Merrillville on Thursday, to discuss his policies.
Housing advocates in Kokomo say they are losing affordable housing and more is needed.
"People that were participating in an affordable housing contract with the State are running out. Instead of renewing them, they are usually selling off the property,” Bryan Zehner, Housing Case Manager at Area Five Agency on Aging, said. “Then the new owners don't proceed down that path or renew a contract with the State either. "
Lottie Shaffer is a Kokomo veteran who is currently in permanent supportive housing. She lives at Jackson Street Commons, one of only a handful of veteran specific housing in the state.
Shaffer served in the Navy, but fell on hard times when she left the military. She was living in a women's shelter before she started living at Jackson Street Commons.
"It's really hard to find housing if you really don't have any money, " Shaffer said.
She says she's always dreamed of owning a home, but has never been able to afford one.
"I've always wanted to buy a home but never could,” Shaffer said. “I mean, I have two kids. I've always lived in HUD apartments with them or with my parents because of the low amount of pay I got. "
She wishes congress would create job programs for older Americans — Jobs that would allow her to make more money to buy a home.
Young feels for people like Shaffer.
He says the answer is to create more housing stock, or allow them to buy into neighborhoods that have blighted homes that would be fixed up through his Neighborhood Investment Act.
"If wages aren't keeping up with housing inflation, one way we can address housing inflation is to put more housing on the market, lowering the price of houses, allowing each dollar of wage to go further,” Young said.
Housing advocates say these policies that promote home ownership need to come with support because navigating buying homes can be complicated, especially for low income people.
"It's not something that is achieved lightly,” Zehner said. “It takes a lot of work and working alongside a counselor to break down a game plan and know what it takes to become a homeowner."
Young says two of his policies have bi-partisan support.
The one he is concerned may not have support is the Yes In My Backyard Act. The legislation would require local entities to be more transparent with the federal government about land use policies and how they are deciding to zone certain areas.