SNAP cuts will affect 16 million families, report says

Close up image of a person pushing a shopping cart through a grocery store. Photo by Adobe Stock.

An estimated 16 million families will face cuts in their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in March, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

SNAP benefits were increased through Emergency Allotments during the pandemic. The boost in food assistance ended with the February allotments.

The boost in SNAP benefits kept millions of families out of poverty during the pandemic. In the last quarter of 2021, the SNAP boost lifted 4.2 million people above poverty. It accounted for a 10% drop in poverty, and a 14% drop in child poverty.

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Almost 3/4 of American communities have no LIHTC housing

72% of municipalities nationwide lack affordable housing built with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC). While the core cities in all major metropolitan areas have LIHTC housing, 3/4 of all other municipalities have no such housing.

These findings and others come from a study published in Housing Policy Debate. The study examined where LIHTC housing has been built. They also compared the community characteristics of places with and without these affordable housing properties. 

The authors found substantial differences between communities that had affordable LIHTC rental housing and those that lacked LIHTC properties.

Cities that have no affordable LIHTC housing are smaller, wealthier, whiter, and have less rental housing. Cities with affordable LIHTC housing have higher numbers of renters, higher population shares of people of color, and higher poverty rates.

Over the last three decades, LIHTC has supported the vast majority of new affordable housing construction in the country.

Record high rental construction delayed by pandemic

The number of new multifamily units under construction is at a record high, but still falls behind the need for rental housing around the country.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that there are currently 943,000 multifamily units under construction. This is more than the total number of single-family homes being built, and the highest number since 1974.

However, the large number of new apartments under construction does not mean that supply is starting to catch up with demand. Rather, it is the result of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has disrupted supply chains. This has made it harder and more expensive for builders to get materials. The cost of wood, steel, and other building supplies has skyrocketed. A longstanding construction labor shortage has also been made worse by the pandemic.

Construction delays mean that it will be quite some time before the availability of new rentals helps bring down rents.

Rural areas have extremely limited banking resources, data says

Although more than half of U.S. banks are headquartered in rural areas, these banks control a fraction of the nation’s bank assets. Rural areas have also been hit hard by bank branch closures and are more likely to be “banking deserts.”

According to a Housing Assistance Council (HAC) tabulation of data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 56% of banks are headquartered in rural areas. However, these banks hold only 6% of all bank assets nationally. You can see HAC’s interactive graphic here.

Rural areas have been hit hard by bank branch closures during the pandemic. The Federal Reserve has identified 2,100 “banking deserts” in the country, places with limited access to physical banking services. Among these banking deserts, 1,500 are in rural areas.

HAC’s findings show that low-income rural families not only lack access to banking services, the banks that do serve them have fewer assets.

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