Kennett Area Community Service celebrates first housing donation

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Kennett Area Community Service volunteers celebrate the donation of an affordable home.

On Thursday, November 9th, Kennett Area Community Service (KACS) accepted the donation of its first home to be used as affordable housing. KACS received the designation of Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) from Chester County this May. After that announcement, an anonymous donor came forward and offered a property for KACS’s new housing initiative.

KACS is developing a systemic approach to providing homes that treat housing not as a commodity but as a human right. Across Chester County and beyond, the rising cost of renting and buying a home has placed tremendous burdens on our neighbors in communities throughout the region. KACS hopes to be part of a collaboration across the region, seeking a unified vision, goals, and set of strategies to better rise to this challenge.

The lack of affordable housing stems from the contradictory demands for real estate as a commodity and housing as a social good. For housing activists around the country, the appeal of affordable housing is its promise to “decommodify” housing—that is, to shield housing costs and access from the private market.

As stated by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), “Housing is the key to reducing intergenerational poverty and increasing economic mobility. Research shows that increasing access to affordable housing is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing childhood poverty and increasing economic mobility in the United States.

Increasing access to affordable housing bolsters economic growth. Research shows that the shortage of affordable housing costs the American economy about $2 trillion a year in lower wages and productivity. Without affordable housing, families have constrained opportunities to increase earnings, causing slower GDP growth. In fact, researchers estimate that the growth in GDP between 1964 and 2009 would have been 13.5% higher if families had better access to affordable housing. This would have led to a $1.7 trillion increase in income or $8,775 in additional wages per worker.

Moreover, each dollar invested in affordable housing boosts local economies by leveraging public and private resources to generate income—including resident earnings and additional local tax revenue—and supports job creation and retention.”

Each community has its own specific challenges in response to housing. In Chester County, houses can’t be built fast enough. Our population is growing, and there’s a diminishing supply of housing, along with land constraints.

At the same time, there’s a shortage of construction workers, which means building costs are rising. And incomes aren’t keeping pace with rising rents and home values, sometimes 5-10% annually.

Affordable housing means an available supply of housing at every income level.

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