The report The New Housing Normal for Low-Income Families, published by The Center for American Progress (June 15, 2010) argues that it’s not okay for families to “double up.” The article has also been posted here. The purpose of the study is to make the case for more affordable housing. Yes, we do need more affordable housing but not by attacking “doubling up.” It’s a pretty typical social policy response to sharing housing, when in reality there are many benefits to sharing housing.
According to the author the problems with sharing housing are threefold: crowding, mobility and safety. Of course these are issues. Crowding and mobility show up when sharing housing is a temporary solution to an emergency situation, where people are sleeping on couches and there isn’t room for the number of people in the space. Safety is always an issue. Some might argue ( I do!) that living alone has a whole bunch of safety issues. It is not doubling up that is the issue, it’s the lack of options that create the problem.
I understand that the article is making a case for funding the The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, H.R. 4213, but I wish it didn’t do so by attacking the notion of doubling up. It’s enough to know that 16% of households are experiencing severe housing burden as I wrote in this post. I also wish that there were a way to write housing policy to encourage people to share housing and not discourage it.