A still image from "Affordable Housing in Lancaster & Beyond."  (Source: City of Lancaster)
A still image from "Affordable Housing in Lancaster & Beyond." (Source: City of Lancaster)

Lancaster's city government has created an online video looking at housing affordability and inviting local residents to advocate on the issue.

To be affordable, housing costs should eat up no more than 30% of a family's income, the video says. But costs have spiraled upward while incomes stay flat, putting affordability out of reach for many.

Watch: Affordable housing in Lancaster & beyond

The video debuted on April 30, the cusp between Fair Housing Month in April and Affordable Housing Month in May. It identifies five factors that make housing more or less affordable:

  • Inventory: Adding more units "of any kind" gives demand a fresh outlet and helps to stabilize prices.
  • Construction costs: Building new housing is expensive, and it is impossible for developers to break even below certain price points. "To make housing affordble, we need subsidies," the video says.
  • Zoning: Many municipalities use zoning to sharply limit where affordable housing can be built.
  • Blight: Repair and rehabilitation programs are essential to keep affordable units in good condition, the video says.
  • Income: Fundamentally, affordability depends on the ratio between housing costs and income; so increasing the latter is as much a part of the solution as controlling the former.

Lancaster city is a leader in the county on affordable housing, the video says. It has the lowest average rent and the largest inventory of affordable units in the county, and more housing is under construction.

It directs interested viewers to the city's "Take Action" page, which recommends writing elected officials in support of housing subsidies and zoning reform. It also suggests donating to various nonprofits that build and manage affordable housing.

"Housing is a human right and we can't rest until everyone in our community has a place to call home," it concludes.

Tim Stuhldreher