The American dream is supposed to play out like this: a pleasant house in an appealing color scheme, surrounded by a white picket fence; a lush patch of grass out front; a triumphant family photo beside the “SOLD” sign in the yard.
Here’s the reality: 11 million Americans spend more than half their paychecks on rent for homes they don’t own, in counties that aren’t the ones they work in. More than 550,000 people in the U.S. are homeless altogether. For those Americans who can afford to buy a home, they’re paying a larger percentage of their wages for the same property than they would have in years past, since pay increases aren’t coming as fast as price increases.
The problem is worst for people at the lowest end of the market. America’s housing stock is laughably depleted, and affordable units are demolished all the time to make way for more lucrative luxury condos. Just 57 percent of homes sold between April and June of this year were affordable to Americans making the median U.S. income of $71,900, according to HousingWire. For the renters most in need, there are only 35 units available for every 100 extremely low-income households.
This all boils down to one thing: No matter where or how you live, America’s housing crisis probably affects you. We at HuffPost want to know how. Maybe you found an apartment you love, one you can comfortably afford — but now you live more than an hour from your workplace. Maybe your best housing option didn’t line up with your child care needs. Maybe you’re skimping on other life expenses, like groceries or car repairs or a trip to the movies, just to make sure you’ve got enough left each month for a rent or mortgage payment.
Underlying these individual plights are society-wide concerns, like gentrification and discrimination. Communities of color are routinely victimized by landlords — including, at one point, by the man who is now the president of the United States. We’ve covered how changing neighborhoods affect long-term residents’ health, how black women have suffered acutely from the cycle of eviction and how transgender renters are left in the lurch thanks to discriminatory landlords.
Now, HuffPost wants to hear from you — your frustrations, your confessions, your struggles. In the survey below, you can add your voice to our investigation. Share your experiences with us, and we can help you tell your story — the real story of housing in America.