The Affordable Housing Cause
Pedaling for Affordable Housing since 2003.
What Is Affordable Housing?
A home is affordable if payments plus taxes and basic utilities do not exceed 30% of a household’s gross income.
Unfortunately, far too many people in the United States do not have the financial means to rent or own a home that is affordable, safe, and durable.
It is especially difficult for Extremely Low-Income (ELI) individuals and families whose income as at or below 30% of the median income in their area. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reports that 11.4 million individuals and families, or 1 out of 4 rental households in the U.S., fall into this category. Many of these people spend over 50% of their incomes on housing, meaning they have few funds left over for basic nutritional, medical, and educational needs.
People are not earning enough to keep pace with rising costs of living. The federal minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25 since 2009. To afford the national Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom apartment, an individual would need to work 94.5 hours at minimum wage.
Because of rising costs, many families are relegated to homes that are inexpensive but considered physically inadequate. Such homes may lack hot water, electricity, and plumbing, or they may include units with structural deficiencies like unsafe stairs or surfaces, handicap inaccessibility, poor insulation, and damaged roofs. These realities impact millions of homes across the country.
Pedaling for Affordable Housing
Bike & Build is so much more than just a yearly bike trip. From when riders sign up for a trip, to on the road, to post-trip impact, Bike & Build addresses affordable housing from many angles and throughout all aspects of our program.
Every Bike & Build rider participates in a curriculum designed to inform not only our riders, but also the community members that our riders meet during the summer. Pre-trip, riders will read about and discuss in small groups the various issues surrounding the cause: public housing; sustainability; socioeconomic influences; etc.
They will also meet with an individual in their community impacted by the crisis. During the trip, each rider will share what they’ve learned from those conversations, both with their fellow Bike & Build teammates and with the community members they meet on the road.
On the road, rider teams stop about every fifth day and riders trade their bikes for hammers or saws to help on an affordable housing build site with a local affiliate. For Bike & Builders, “days off” are really “days on” as riders serve alongside local community members in a hands-on application of Bike & Build’s mission to impact affordable housing. Additionally, prior to the trip every rider must complete 15 hours of “sweat equity” volunteer work on a local affordable housing affiliate site in their communities.
Our riders are very much ambassadors for the affordable housing cause. Riders prepare host presentations for the various church congregations and other community members who may host them overnight or for a meal in order to talk a little bit about the cause and why they are dedicating their summer to this cause. In communities through which they pass, riders talk to local residents and spread the message of what it means to pedal for affordable housing.
Every rider must fundraise $5,000 prior to the start of their trip. A portion of that fundraising goes towards our competitive grant program which supports 501(c)(3) affordable housing organizations across the country. Rider teams read over submitted applications and decide as a group where they want the money they’ve raised to go and which projects to fund.
Projects address a range of issues, and typically the more creative the better; we also require awarded organizations submit a project update and progress report one year after receiving funding to see how the organization continues to impact affordable housing in their community.
These organizations have a wealth of resources on affordable housing:
Find out what is going on in your community. Organizations are always eager for volunteer help. Here’s a few to check out: