Columbia city councilman Ian Thomas says some ideas he learned in a Washington D.C. conference about affordable housing could be useful here.
Thomas says people who have more than 30 percent of their income tied up in housing are considered “cost-burdened.”
“They’re at a very high risk of one financial setback being kind of a catastrophe,” Thomas said. “They’ll get their utilities cut off, they’ll get thrown out of their home, or other very serious consequences.”
Thomas said rent higher than $375 per month would typically qualify a full-time minimum wage worker as cost-burdened, and that Columbia rent prices exceed that cost. He said also said the lack of affordable housing means many low-wage workers move outside of the city and commute to work in Columbia, making the city’s work force more vulnerable to transportation problems and turnover caused by employees finding work closer to home.
“I think it really strengthens our workforce in general to have an adequate supply of affordable housing in a lot of different parts of Columbia so that people can afford to live close to where they’re working,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he wants to set up a public conference this fall, to hear from Columbia residents on possible affordable housing options.