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The Affordable Housing Market and Why It Matters

SAVI Talks - November 2016

Indianapolis is recognized as an affordable place to live, but while housing costs for owners have risen less than 2 percent from 2005-2015, costs for renters have risen 23.8 percent.

On Thursday, October 6, WFYI hosted a SAVI Talks! presentation, “The Changing Affordable Housing Market.” The event featured highlights from John Marron’s report, The Affordable Housing Market and Why It Matters, analyzing affordable housing issues in Central Indiana, helping organizations and communities to better understand the market so their efforts might more strategically impact service provision.

Indianapolis is routinely recognized as one of the more affordable regional housing markets in the nation. This relative affordability lies within the eye of the beholder as Indianapolis also fares relatively poorly in income inequality. To many low-and moderate-income households, the housing of their choice may be out of reach. Urban Analyst John Marron looks more deeply into this issue in the report, The Affordable Housing Market and Why It Matters, produced in partnership with The Polis Center at IUPUI for the SAVI community information system. The central theme of the report: affordable housing encompasses a broader range of economic issues than the price of a home.

In this report, we define the terms, affordable housingand subsidized housing, and explore the drivers and interrelatedness of each. We also look at general policy challenges in creating adequate affordable housing and the reason why it is a relevant policy goal, especially for low-income families. In addition, we provide a brief examination of policy options for local governments and civic leaders who have an interest in local and regional housing policy. All of this discussion is placed alongside relevant data for Central Indiana, Marion County, and Indianapolis.

Housing affordability is measured by the cost of housing relative to income. Solutions to make housing more affordable should include solutions oriented toward promoting the development of affordable housing as well as increasing the earning potential of low- and moderate-income families. Making housing cheaper allows households to afford housing; raising incomes allows households to better afford everything. Despite its reputation, Central Indiana can do better in helping its citizens become less cost-burdened by housing.


John Marron,
Former Senior Policy Analyst, Public Policy Institute

Timothy Gondola,
GIS Intern, The Polis Center

Kirstin Oaldon,
GIS Intern, The Polis Center


John Marron,
Former Senior Policy Analyst, Public Policy Institute

Christie Gillespie,
Vice President, Community Impact, United Way of Central Indiana 

Gail Strong,
Vice President, Community Engagement, WFYI



City of Indianapolis

United Way of Central Indiana


Program partners include the Polis Center at IUPUI, WFYI, United Way of Central Indiana, and The City of Indianapolis. Presentation sponsors include the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP), Herman & Kittle Properties, and the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts.