Struggling to Survive: The Need for Affordable Housing

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- When we began our "Struggling to Survive" series last Monday, Madison Martin learned that Americans are making more money than ever before but they are saving less. That's one of the reasons why so many people in the middle class can no longer afford to buy a home. But it's just one of the reasons.

"We used to have people that would, y'know they'd get out of college, they'd get married, they'd start a family, and we'd have first time home buyers homes," said Bowling Green Realtor Steve Cherry. "We'd have that as an inventory. And these days, that's gone away."

Cherry says that's because the development cost, the builder cost, and the prices developers must pay for the land have gotten really expensive. Plus, he says, folks are coming out of college with more student debt than ever before!

But help is on the way.

Cherry says there are two major projects being developed in Warren County right now to help provide affordable housing to first time home buyers.

"They're gonna be on smaller lots" said Cherry. "They're 50 foot wide, about 150 foot deep, and those homes will be built smaller so that they are affordable. We're calling it affordable housing and that is a really big thing that we need in this town right now."

One of those developments is right here on McCLellan Road just off Nashville Road, where about 52 lots are going in. And the other is here on Plano Road just off Scottsville Road, where they're creating around 236 new home sites.

"And when somebody buys that first new house it triggers that," Cherry said. "It just triggers other things to happen on up the line so we've gotta have the starter home to move people on up the line and make the market what it really needs to be."

So that's a start, but a recent survey by CareerBuilder shows almost 8 out of 10 American workers say they live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. And many members of the middle class, may not realize just how close they may be to being homeless.

"One little injury," Kelly Violi told me, "one little car breakdown could put a family with children in a shelter, or if there's not room in a shelter, in their car. Can you imagine doing your homework in your car?"

Kelly recently moved into a home through the Housing Authority of Bowling Green. "It has been a struggle," she says. "It has not been fun. It has not been pretty. It has nearly broken me y'know. But there have been some amazing people here at the Housing Authority."

Kelly made it. But right now, millions of middle class Americans are struggling to survive. So will there be a home in their future?

Steve Cherry says, "If we can get some brand new construction on the market in the $175-$200,000 range, that's really the hole that we're gonna fill."

So although they may have to settle for a smaller house on a smaller lot than they wanted there are ways for members of the middle class to become homeowners at a lower cost than they thought.

Next week our Kelly Dean looks at how Americans are dealing with the rising cost of medical care in Part 3 of "Struggling to Survive" next Monday on 13 News at 6.

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