Last week, I offered some modest thoughts on why the preservation of affordable housing is so crucial in gentrified neighborhoods. In fact, the term “preservation” does not only mean preventing these HUD buildings from being knocked down and converted to market-rate. It also means keeping their quality up to standard, hence offering tenants a safe and stable living environment.

“Affordable” is by no means synonymous with “run-down.” Unfortunately, due to various reasons, quality affordable housing for all is still too far from reality. Organizations lack sufficient funding to update their properties. Many private owners buy and keep properties affordable, yet do nothing to improve the standard of living (the derogatory term “slumlord” denotes this). All lead to the existence of properties in dreadful conditions: those that are roach infested, have no working air conditioning, or have broken doors and windows that remain unfixed; the list goes on.

Low-quality housing, affordable or not, is detrimental to society. In a blighted building, “the myths of affordable housing” could become the truth. Such a property is a nest for crime, which reduces safety, which, as a result, harms property values in the neighborhood. It also affects tenants’ view of the world and their place in it. If you realize people think it is ok for you to live in subhuman conditions, would you still believe in the possibility of upward mobility or would you give up and fall further in the hole of poverty?

Making subpar housing specifically for the low-income population is not only unreasonable: it spells discrimination. Shelter is a basic human right; thus denying housing for the less fortunate is unethical. Giving them housing, but without the necessary maintenance or update to upkeep it, seems like a half-hearted attempt to solve the problem, even if the entities involved are trying their best.

On the contrary, preserving and renovating affordable housing to retain their quality prove to be advantageous. Living in quality housing motivates the abled to work and save without fearing robberies inside their own homes. Children, the disabled and the elderly live more happily and healthily in a clean environment. Tenants have an incentive to upkeep their rental units. Well-kept properties generate positive externalities; the overall well-being of the community, not only of those living in affordable housing, improves.

Preserving quality affordable housing just as important as creating them; yet it is not a simple task that can be delegated to one group. The government, non-profit organizations, and businesses, particularly housing developers, all have a hand in carrying out this duty, aiding the lives of millions across the country.

And this aligns with the mission of Hudson Valley. The two founders started the company around a central belief that everyone deserves quality housing. We won’t take on a project if we aren’t confident in being able to provide a place that we ourselves would be comfortable living in and call home.

Becky

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