March update

Time flies, doesn’t it?

Fundraising update: 85% done! Family, friends, and complete strangers have been generous to support the affordable housing cause, and I couldn’t be more grateful! Curious about how the money is used? Click here.

Bike update: Received THE bike!

bike

Damn.

 

With just enough time in the day, I squeezed in a ride to my local park and enjoyed the view.

bike-quiet-waters

View of the South River from Quiet Waters Park.

 

What’s next? Fixing the flat I got on the way home, then riding 492 more miles before orientation in June. Oh, and the Maryland Bike Symposium for fun.

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Visualizing the shortage of affordable housing in the USA

Thought I’d share this article from CityLab.com by Tanvi Misra that displays the shortage of affordable housing by state. (Gotta love visual learning.)

On a national level, there’s a shortage of 3.9 million affordable homes for low income families. This translates to only 35 units per 100 extremely poor families. Yikes. By state, Alabama has the most, with 61 units. Breakin’ it down by metro area, Las Vegas has only 12 units per 100 families, and Boston has the most, with 46 units per 100. ‘Murica, we can do better.

visualizing-affordable-housing-shortages-by-state

From CityLab.com. Any of these states catch you by surprise?

 

This is causing a chain reaction across income levels. Because of the shortage of affordable housing rental units, families with middle income levels are forced into the units that are for lower income families. In fact, of the 7.5 million rental units that are considered affordable for low income families, 3.5 of them are occupied by a higher income level renter.

What does this mean? It means that a good chunk (over 30%) of a family’s income is spent on housing, leaving less money for other expenses, such as food, health care, transportation, and higher education. Imagine having to choose between your prescription medication or dinner. (In fact, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that 71% of extremely poor families spend over half of their income on rent and utilities.)

What’s the solution here? More affordable housing, of course. But that’s easier said than done, with housing assistance policies such as the Low Income Tax Housing Tax Credit that may not be interesting to developers anymore, and the Mortgage Income Tax Deduction. From the article:

Housing assistance policies have not caught up to this new reality. Reforming the Low Income Tax Housing Tax Credit, a key program that helps build affordable housing so it better addresses the needs of the most burdened renters, is one recommendation NLIHC makes in the report. Housing advocates also argue that the Mortgage Income Tax Deduction, which is designed to promote homeownership, is ineffective.

You can read the rest of the article here. Feeling slightly overwhelmed and not sure how to help? Learn how Bike and Build is making an impact on affordable housing across the country, and click here to check out why I’m getting involved.

 

 

Build Day with Habitat for Humanity

What would be better than a Build Day on a warm Saturday in February?

Yesterday, I spent the day with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake in Baltimore, as a precursor to the Bike and Build adventure this summer. As an individual amongst 22 other volunteers, we got a lot done on the home that was a badly damaged duplex in the Govan neighborhood.

One volunteer I spoke with had been on this project since October. Since then, she had seen the home go from no back wall or flooring to what it was (as of our Build Day) – all three floors constructed, with studs in place on the top floor, and the entire back of the home built up. Our volunteer coordinator, Matt, mentioned this will be one of approximately 20 homes that this chapter of Habitat builds yearly.

hfhc-back-of-home

The rear of the home, built since October. On the left is a fellow volunteer, and one of the site supervisors, on the right. Between them is concrete poured earlier that day.

Continue reading

Affordable Housing Changes in the Political Climate

To give context to the issue of affordable housing, I want to share this article by Josh Cohen from NextCity.org about the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) which, since the Reagan era, has financially helped millions of low-income families with renting homes.

I encourage you to read it. In summary, the article states that because of tax cut promises from the new administration, investors are not as interested in giving money to developers for housing units with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Here is an excerpt to explain the relation between the tax credit and its role in development:

“Created by President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Tax Reform Act, the LIHTC program disburses federal income tax credits to affordable housing developers through state housing finance agencies. The developers (nonprofits and for-profit companies) negotiate with investors — often banks, insurance companies or other corporate entities — for funding in exchange for the credits. The former get money for their rent-restricted housing projects, and the latter get to reduce their tax burden. Unlike a tax write-off, the tax credits provide a dollar for dollar tax reduction. A dollar of LIHTC purchased is a dollar off the tax bill.” Continue reading

Bicycling in January and fundraising update

Bicycling in the middle of January? Isn’t it too cold for that?

Well, recently it was unseasonably warm enough to fix up the old college road bike so, after a quick tune-up, I slapped on the helmet and took a spin around the neighborhood. Riding almost 4,000 miles is a lot, but a simple ride to the park and back is a good place to start.

A month ago, that 4,000 miles was not as overwhelming as fundraising $4,800. However, I’m happy to say that the generosity of family and friends has given me a great start! Currently, I am just under the halfway mark. If you are interested in donating, click here to go to my Bike and Build rider profile for more info.

Also, here’s a sneak peak at a project I’m working on with a local graphic designer (and my kind neighbor!) as a “thank you” for donations. Stay tuned.

thank-you-teaser

A bicycling adventure in 2014.

4,000 miles. Two coasts. One bicycle.

Welcome to my first Bike and Build blog post!

Hello! My name is Kerry, and come summer 2017, I will be bicycling across the US! Why am I doing this? To raise awareness for affordable housing through Bike and Build, a 501c3 non-profit! Starting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and ending in Bellingham, Washington, the distance will total 3,946 miles, with 25 other riders. I’ve wanted to do this ever since I heard of it from other cyclists in Boston over four years ago, but now that it’s happening, it’s almost surreal! I am stoked!

So this blog entry kicks off my endeavor to raise money for affordable housing, dig into some long distance riding, and explore new areas of the US.

Check out my Bike & Build profile here to donate, and learn more about Bike & Build here.