Making a Difference at Home

Jun 1, 2022

[IMPACT+: This series features IMPACT posts that take a longer look at vital topics that affect Americans.]

America’s life insurance industry recently announced the formation of a historic nonprofit investment partnership that will support community development around the nation with a focus on sustainable, affordable housing.

Why are we focusing on affordable housing?

  1. Because it can change lives.

    Priscilla Almodovar, President and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., joined me recently on a panel at the DEI: Expanding Opportunities in Insurance conference. She said that housing might be the number one domestic policy issue to address intergenerational poverty, and that it doesn’t get the attention that it should. She cited a study by Harvard University and the U.S. Census Bureau that revealed that children growing up in neighborhoods with good public schools, good jobs and close to transit have higher educational attainment, lower incarceration rates and better job growth as adults.
  2. The need has never been greater.

    Affordable housing is increasingly difficult to find in large segments of our country. For those seeking to buy a home, housing prices soared to a record-high in March, up 15% from last year. And interest rates for home mortgages just hit their highest level in nearly 13 years. Renters face their own challenges, with rents recently rising to a record high, as well.

    “There are about 124 million households in America,” Almodovar said. “About a third are renters. Half of those are cost burdened, which means they spend about 30% of their income on rent. And if we add the racial lens over it, it’s even worse. It’s more like half of renters are people of color. They’re 50% cost burdened. So when families do not have an affordable place to live, unfortunately, they have to make tradeoffs in how they spend their resources, food, groceries.”
  3. It impacts Americans’ ability to save for the future.

    If half of your income is going to just where you live, who’s got extra resources to worry about retirement security? Because of the lack of affordable housing, too many American families are unable to properly prepare for their future. Through our investment partnership, we will give more American families a better pathway to financial security.

    Our initiative is starting strong, with 39 ACLI members signing on as founding partners. We are committed to action, and we’re in it for the long haul. In fact, we’re already eyeing a day when we can showcase the true impact of this partnership.

    Envisioning a session at a DEI conference five years from now, ACLI Chairman and President & CEO of OneAmerica Scott Davison said it best, “I hope that we have a panel of people that live at affordable housing whose lives have been transformed. And that we’re having them tell their own story versus us talk about what we hope to do.”

Susan K. Neely

Susan K. Neely is the President and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the nation’s leading trade association determined to help families live better lives by achieving financial security and certainty. As president and CEO, Neely drives public policy and advocacy on behalf of ACLI’s member companies that represent 93 percent of industry assets and serve 90 million families.