Investing in the Kent Community
The Value of Affordable Housing
Kent Affordable Housing (KAH) is a 501(c)3 non-profit, but is more like an investment than a charity. Taking little or no funds from town budgets, KAH puts to work grants from state and federal sources and money provided by its local supporters and friends to build affordable homes that add value to the community. These values include residents who participate in the community and add to local businesses and organizations; structures that are models of environmentally friendly construction; and homes that enhance the quality of life for both tenants and their families.
Oversight: Affordable housing is initiated locally. People with a stake in the community guide the construction and the management of the complexes. They seek out the sites and the consultants that help with applications; they select the architects and review plans for appropriate design; shepherd the projects through local regulatory entities; and hire the professionals for the operation and maintenance.
Funding: Money for construction of affordable housing comes primarily from state or federal sources, but it is worth noting that the federal government forgoes a comparable amount of income from home owners’ deductions for real estate taxes and mortgage interest. The operating budgets of the Kent complexes contribute real estate taxes and generate additional income for the town’s sewer system. Residents of the properties shop in town, and some pay state income taxes.
Environment: Contemporary affordable housing is built to the most exacting standards, with superior insulation, Energy Star appliances, non-toxic finishes, and in some cases solar panels or other renewable energy sources. Their design also demonstrates how other buildings in the community can lower their carbon footprints. Some complexes replace derelict properties or fill neglected lots that do not otherwise contribute much to the town’s tax base.
Residents: Tenants of affordable housing are carefully vetted for income eligibility and for personal references and criminal records. The majority of tenants come from Kent or nearby towns, or move to be near family or jobs. They may work in education, essential services or local businesses, or may be on pensions or Social Security. Some have owned houses that they lost to disability or illness. Some may be downsizing from homes they can no longer manage physically or financially.
Community Participation: Besides holding jobs in the area, some residents volunteer in local nonprofits, or the, and frequently contribute to the beautification of the properties, and lend helping hands when needed to their neighbors. Those families with children in school help counteract declining student enrollments, which complicate staffing and diminish state support for education.
The Quality of Life: Affordable housing provides safe, attractive, well-maintained homes for people, including the disabled, as long as they can live independently with a modest amount of home care. This kind of housing can help the elderly or infirm avoid costs for for medical assistance and care homes that might otherwise be required.
Downsides: Perhaps the largest drawback of affordable housing is that not everyone who needs it can benefit. The state-imposed guidelines for eligibility are strict. Of necessity rents are not as low as might be wished because complexes must operate in the black. There is no medical or individual support staff on the premises--although those services are available in town, sometimes with financial help. At present 61 affordable housing units in Kent provide homes for 90 individuals. There is too little affordable housing available for those who need it and would benefit; waiting lists are substantial.
Support: The town of Kent, its citizens, businesses, government and other friends have long been supportive of local affordable housing, both financially and politically. It’s good to remember that investing in housing for those with modest incomes contributes substantial value to the community.
Kent Affordable Housing needs your support. Your contribution is tax deductible and the benefits are long-term improvement of individuals’ present and future lives--in settings that encourage productivity and happiness.
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