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Renters affected by declining housing market
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A Connecticut activist says the dire state of the housing market is affecting renters just as severely as homeowners. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, Diane Randall gave evidence to the Senate Banking Committee.

Randall is executive director of the Hartford-based Partnership for Strong Communities – she told the hearing in Connecticut nearly half of renting households now pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. She says there’s a great need to improve rental assistance programs and to preserve the dwindling stock of public housing.

"The loss of income experienced by millions of Americans whether through unemployment, reduction in work and benefits or crises related to mortgage and foreclosure problems, pushes more lower income households to look for affordable rentals. This pressure on the low income rental market in turn drives up rents for these homes."

Randall’s testimony was part of a wide-ranging hearing on the housing market which among other things also addressed the extension of the first time homebuyers tax credit. Chairman Chris Dodd said he’d like to see congress extend the credit till next June.

"The credit is set to expire in five weeks as we all know, but the work of stabilizing the housing market won’t be done as also know. We still need to use every tool at our disposal to fix this problem."

Dodd also urged the need for an effective program to curtail the rising number of foreclosures around the nation.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.