Site Leader: Alison Adams Third Year International Affairs and Anthropology major Contact me: Ama84624@uga.edu
How did I get involved with impact?
My freshman year I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for spring break, but one of my best friends suggested that I apply to go on an Impact trip. So, without much information, I applied to be on a trip to Philadelphia, PA, focused on Ability & Disability Awareness. What followed was without a doubt one of the best weeks of my life. I made so many new and lasting friends, we laughed, we cried, and we learned so much about the disabled community and their lives, it was a truly eye-opening experience. The impact that my trip left on me fueled my desire to impart a similar experience on other participants and people throughout UGA.
Why am I interested in my trip focus?
Affordable Housing is a crucial aspect of life and society. When you think about the necessities of life you list food, water, and shelter, yet many people in our country do not have access to this basic need. I am interested in the topic of affordable housing because it is a very serious pressing issue that is affecting all kinds of people throughout the U.S. It is a very complex issue with a myriad of causes that range from government policy to the wealth gap and do not stop there. Additionally, affordable housing is an important issue to explore because it is entangled with so many other social justice issues like homelessness, food insecurity, poor community health, and issues in education, that all have problems that stem from the lack of public housing in their communities.
I am a junior and I have been on crutches at the beginning of every year in college.
Site Leader: Lisa TO Fourth Year Health Promotion Major Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
How did I get involved with IMPACT?
I actually got started my sophomore year of college. My friend introduced me to the organization and told me how she loved it so much, so I thought I’d give it a try. I want to be a physical therapist and focus on the disabled community so naturally, the Ability and Disability Awareness trip to Philadelphia drew my attention. I didn’t know what to expect out of the trip but that week we spent in Philly changed me in so many ways. It broaden my knowledge on social justice issues and revamped my love of service. It is hands down one of the best experiences in my college career and I have IMPACT to thank for that. Not only did I make new friends and memories but I also stepped out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.
Why am I interested in my trip focus?
I know in the Athens community, there is a huge population of people who experience homelessness and I had the chance to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, which sparked my interest in the topic Affordable Housing. Affordable Housing is such a prevalent issue in the US and around the world, but not only that, it also intersects with a lot of other social justice issues, such as health access, community and wellness, education, food security, and so much more. There are so many discussions that can be brought around this topic and I think it’s really important to have these conversations, which is what I am most excited about this trip. I also what to learn more about this topic and how all the other intersectionality plays a factor in the quality of life for this population that is affected by this issue.
I’ve been skydiving!
Affordable Housing: Housing is affordable if a family spends 30% or less of their income to live in that space.
Subsidized Affordable Housing: This includes housing that is affordable through either nonprofits or because of government subsidies. Also called “Capital A Affordable Housing”
Naturally Occurring affordable housing: This is housing that is available to everyone and tends to be within budget for most families. It is however not subsidized by the government, it is just on the regular market. Also called "NOAH"
Market rate housing: This is open housing that is on the private market. Since it is not subsidized it is open to anyone at any income level. This is what the housing vouchers can be applied to. Area median income (AMI): This is the median income of all household units in a given area. This number is used to determine who qualifies for certain affordable housing assistance, since the need and standard varies from place to place. When is considered 30% of your income in Athens is very different from a place like San Francisco. Housing Choice vouchers: This is a government program, to qualify in most places you must have an income that is 50% or less of the AMI. Formally called Section 8 housing, it is controlled by the housing and urban development (HUD) sector of the government. This voucher provides government funding in order to pay part of your rent and can go towards living in a market-rate house. Low income housing tax credits: This is a government incentive to have builders/owners specifically set aside portions of their developments to meet the requirement for affordable housing (so to be specifically for people of low income). In turn these builders/owners get a credit on their income tax (A dollar for a dollar). Public housing: In the past it has been referred to as “the projects”, but that is an outdated term and people who live in public housing do not like it. These are government created and controlled houses (sometimes town-homes, sometimes apartment buildings) that are offered to low income residents. Many public housing sites across the US have lengthy wait lists. Rent-Burdened: This is the idea that you are spending too much of your income on housing and thus do not have enough money for other basic needs… thus you are financially burdened. (A common example is if you spend more than 30% of your income on rent then you are rent-burdened) Rent Control: This is another move by the government to attempt to help low-income families. Here the government puts forth regulations to freeze the cost of rent. This way landlords cannot legally raise the rent in order to force tenants out. https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/3/30/17-head-scratcher-housing-words-defined Info graphics: https://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/programs/housing/contemporary-housing-issues/ https://www.housingwire.com/articles/43303-nlihc-reveals-benefits-of-affordable-housing https://homeownershipmatters.realtor/washington/affordable-housing-in-washington/
What Affordable Housing looks like in Georgia
In Atlanta, more than 75% of low-income renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent
Atlanta ranks 5th of 70 major cities in the US in rates of eviction
A 1-bedroom apartment in Atlanta on average increased from $1,100 to $1,600 a month (which is a 45% increase)
Georgia is ranked 7th in the worst state for affordable housing
Intersectionality within Affordable Housing The issue of Affordable Housing is actually extremely inter-sectional. When you have to spend over 30% of your income on housing, that causes families to have to give up other necessities in order to have that shelter. When your money is devoted to housing you have to choose between food, clothing, and medicine and that can have detrimental consequences for an individual’s health, both physical and mental. It is especially difficult on those with fixed incomes (like the elderly) as many landlords can jack up the prices in order to price out tenants and they have no choice but to move out.
Additionally we see the idea of intersectionality with discrimination in housing. Due to outdated laws racial discrimination runs rampant in the housing community and the government does not allocate enough resources to the supervision within HUD to address these issues. Also with the new Supreme Court rulings about religious freedom discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in terms of housing and work is a growing concern.
In Athens... Food Bank of Northeast Georgia: This is the food bank in Athens that works to run several different programs aimed to help end hunger and alleviate poverty. We will be working specifically with their Food 4 Kids program as our pre-trip service meeting. This program has community members come in on Wednesday nights to pack lunches for children in the community. Food insecurity is a big part of the affordable housing crisis. We often see that when families have to spend so much of their income on housing they end up sacrificing other needs in their lives, like food, medicine, clothing, etc.. https://foodbanknega.org/?gclid=CjwKCAiAws7uBRAkEiwAMlbZjuE1Tup3j54hL14rQz7UWq0Cs33qII2qqam5QP4QaMMf7jUulSLPtxoCoOEQAvD_BwE
In Tuscaloosa... Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa: Much like the Habitat for Humanity chapters all over the country, the one in Tuscaloosa that we will be serving with focuses on building houses for people in the community. We will be working on one of their housing projects. Affordable housing is a really big issue affecting people all over the country. Habitat for Humanity is a great organization working to combat this issue by helping families to both build and improve their homes. They believe that “affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities.” https://www.habitattuscaloosa.org/
Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama: The LIHCA was created in 2007 in order to address the severe housing crisis facing Alabama. There goal is through initiatives and involvement from communities to increase opportunities in housing for those Alabamians who have financial needs. We will be spending time with LIHCA in order to learn more about affordable housing both as a whole and specifically how it affects Alabama. This is a crucial educational stop for our trip, while we will also be going to a housing authority that focuses specifically on Tuscaloosa, LIHCA will help paint a bigger picture of the issue on a state level. https://lihca.org/
Community Soup Bowl:This organization works to prepare and serve food to people in their community. We will be helping prepare and serve food with the lovely people of East Tuscaloosa Community Soup Bowl. Much like with our pre-trip service meeting we really wanted to highlight not just the housing issue of affordable housing, but also all of the outside things that are affected by this issue. https://www.etcsb.net/
Tuscaloosa Housing Authority:The Tuscaloosa Housing Authority is a public housing agency that aims to provide safe and affordable housing to low income residents of the city. The organization is sanctioned by the government and federally funded. They follow HUD regulations and Section 8 guidelines in order to suite the needs of this demographic. Organizations such as THA help low to moderate income residents find homes that would be considered affordable to them. Finding safe, decent, and affordable housing is very difficult when you don’t have the proper resources so shedding light on organizations like these is important in the process of understanding the measures that are taken to help this group of people. http://tuscaloosahousing.org/
Jeremiah’s Garden:They are a community garden where they support residents by offering food supplies from their garden. Their goal is to supplement fresh food for the community. They also offer a space for reflections and teach younger generations the importance of gardening. Food insecurity is prevalent in the US and a lot of times when people are insecure about food they are also insecure about other aspects of their life, like education or housing. It’s important to us that our participants see that everything does connect and there are a lot of intersectionality that occurs with the lack of affordable housing. http://www.jeremiahscommunitygarden.com/
Grace Food Pantry: Located at our wonderful housing site, this Food Pantry distributes food to those who do not have a stable source of food. They serve about 700 people a month and each year, Grace Presbyterian Church holds an “Empty Bowls” fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds support the Food Pantry. As mentioned above, food insecurity is prevalent among the low-income demographic and usually often experienced when they lack affordable housing. Alleviating some insecurities can allow these people affected by the affordable housing crisis to focus on other aspects that might also affect their daily living. http://www.gracetuscaloosa.org/get-involved/peace-justice/food-pantry/