The Critical Housing Shortage for America’s Working Families

The Critical Housing Shortage for America’s Working Families

By Jeremy Feakins

With fires raging, a pandemic surging, and social and economic upheaval still simmering, home is more important now than ever before. Yet, securing a home has emerged as a near-impossible task for many American households. One in 7 households spends at least half of their income on housing

People don’t actively choose to spend more money than they can afford on their homes—there are simply not enough homes available in their price range. To afford to rent or own a home, many families are forced to live far away from work. Or they might overspend on housing, to the detriment of their health, children’s education, and/or financial future. 

The lack of available housing for America’s working families is an urgent problem. Retirement savings suffer. Families suffer. Local economies suffer. In this post, we’ll explain what the critical housing shortage is, why it matters, and what you can do about it. 

Who are America’s working families?

We consider America’s working families to be those who make less than $120,000 per year. They make up the majority of Americans—recent graduates, police officers, teachers, janitors, food service workers, etc. These are people that hold jobs, even professional jobs, but they still depend on work for monthly living expenses and generally live paycheck-to-paycheck. 

While the median household income for American households was $68,703 in 2019, that number can be deceiving. Big metropolitan areas where low-wage jobs flourish often offer the highest housing costs and the lowest vacancy rates for rental units.  

The problem for many of these hard-working families is that they often suffer through long commute times just to get to their jobs every day. And if they suddenly lose a job, they may lose their home, too. If that happens, they may spiral into a cycle of bad debt or even homelessness. 

Why is there a critical housing shortage?

The reasons behind today’s housing shortage are complex. But three main culprits keep swimming to the surface: income inequality, housing costs, and demand for housing.

Rising income inequality

It’s no secret that wages have been stagnant for years, and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. For households of color, that gap is widening at a much faster rate. Overall income inequality is higher now than 50 years ago.

In large metropolitan areas, the majority of low-income Americans live and work in industries like travel and hospitality. These jobs pay less and are more vulnerable to layoffs, which makes safe, consistent housing less secure.

Rising cost of housing

Home prices, especially for single-family homes, are rising faster than wages. It would be easy to blame developers for this rising cost, but they face high costs as well. 

Low-density zoning restrictions, parking requirements, high development fees, building materials, and the land itself—which costs 56% more now than in 2012—all contribute to increasing home prices.

Rising demand for housing

With mortgage interest rates at historic lows, many millennials have been competing to buy houses. The demand has inflated prices, making it nearly impossible for many families to buy a house. So, they remain trapped in renting.

In addition to increased prices, barriers like supply shortages, down payment costs, mortgage insurance premiums, and credit requirements have made it nearly impossible for America’s working families to buy homes.  

Why does the critical housing shortage matter?

The housing shortage is not just a humanitarian concern. It is also a broader economic one due to the following.

Reduced employee productivity

As housing remains out of reach for many working metropolitan families, those families move further away from city centers where better-paying jobs exist. Long commutes affect well-being and productivity. 

As a result, working families have a choice. They can put up with long commutes or move to an economically distressed area with fewer employment or education opportunities. 

Reduced business development

Long commutes also contribute to high employee turnover, which impacts a business’ bottom line. Areas with higher-paying jobs can’t attract or retain workers because those workers can’t afford housing nearby. 

A faltering labor pool affects a regional economy’s ability to attract new businesses or even expand existing ones. If a regional economy isn’t able to grow or at least maintain the status quo, the talent pool shrinks, and the labor market contracts.

Reduced family financial resources

Families spending more on housing have less to spend on healthcare, save for retirement, invest in education, or recover from disaster. If they can’t take advantage of public transit options, car expenses further inhibit their financial prosperity. 

These seemingly personal issues are all a matter of public policy. The less families can care for themselves, the more they become a burden to society. Household debt rises, investments and spending decrease. 

How can investing in Opportunity Zones help? 

By investing in Opportunity Zones, you can help distressed communities as well as defer or avoid taxes. Here’s how.

Help distressed communities

You can help spur economic growth in distressed communities. As housing prices become more manageable for America’s working families, their time and financial resources are freed up to contribute to the economy. They produce more, get paid more, spend more, and save more. As a result, regions attract new business, leading to job growth.

Defer or eliminate taxes

If you invest your capital gains from the sale of capital assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, or businesses) into a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF), you can advantage of significant tax benefits. Your QOF investment means a deferral of your capital gains taxes, while a long-term hold (at least 10 years) can lead to additional tax optimization strategies.

Start making a difference now

The housing shortage is a crisis that needs to be addressed. It affects the majority of families in the United States and will only get worse without change. Contact the OZFund to learn more about how you can help address this problem, while receiving tax deferral benefits. 


Jeremy P. Feakins is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OZFund, Inc. You can contact him at jpf@ozfundinc.com or book a call with him.

OZFund Now Seeking Community Support on Fundopolis

OZFund, Inc., launches Reg D, 506(c) offering on Fundopolis.com

LANCASTER, Pa., August 12, 2021 (Newswire.com) – OZFund, Inc (‘OZFund’), a community-focused Qualified Opportunity Fund (‘QOF’) with a solution to help revitalize working family neighborhoods by acquiring and developing multi-use properties located in the ‘Opportunity Zones’ of Central Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic regions, announced it is now seeking funds through its Reg D, 506(c) offering on Fundopolis.com. Fundopolis Securities LLC is a registered Broker Dealer and FINRA member. Accredited investors are now able to invest in OZFund and help support its mission to build safe, affordable rental housing for America’s working families.

Geared towards taxpayers looking to invest in real estate projects or in operating businesses, Opportunity Zones (‘OZ’) are tracts of land designated by the Federal government as areas offering special tax breaks to investors who invest in projects located in OZ’s.

OZFund focuses on utilizing its wealth of investing knowledge and real estate experience to create safe, modern rental housing.

Those interested in investing in OZFund can visit: https://fundopolis.com/campaigns/ozfund

“We plan to design and build safe, reasonably-priced rental housing for America’s working families,” said Jeremy P. Feakins, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OZFund, Inc. “Our team has a proven track record of real estate investing and property development from design through construction and execution. Our first project is underway at the former Rebman’s Warehouse in South Queen Street, Lancaster, PA where we are building 72 apartments and about 15,000 square feet of commercial space for lease by businesses that offer products and services that benefit the community.”

Fundopolis Securities LLC is a registered Broker Dealer and FINRA member that curates the right companies and investment opportunities for savvy investors. For individuals who choose to invest, Fundopolis aims to provide the highest degree of care and experience when guiding professional investors throughout the entire investment process.  Entrepreneurs and businesses looking to raise funds via traditional private placements or through crowdfunding can feel confident that Fundopolis will help foster smart financial participation and meaningful connections intent on growth and future success.

“We are thrilled to have OZFund raising funds on our site,” said Ben DiScipio, Chief Strategy Officer of Fundopolis. “We are proud and honored to support OZFund’s campaign and hope that by giving them access to the capital they need – OZFund will thrive.”

To learn more about OZFund, please visit: https://www.ozfundinc.com

About OZFund, Inc

OZFund, Inc., is a community-focused Qualified Opportunity Fund (‘QOF’) with a solution to help revitalize working family neighborhoods by acquiring properties located in the ‘Opportunity Zones’ of Central Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic regions for redevelopment into reasonably-priced rental housing and commercial space for businesses serving the community. Geared towards taxpayers looking to invest in real estate projects or in operating businesses, Opportunity Zones (‘OZ’) are tracts of land designated by the Federal government as areas offering special tax breaks to investors who invest in projects located in OZ’s. OZFund focuses on utilizing its wealth of investing knowledge and real estate experience to create safe, rental housing for America’s working families.

About Fundopolis

Fundopolis Securities LLC is a registered Broker Dealer and FINRA member. Fundopolis aims to help businesses and entrepreneurs gain access to the capital necessary to achieve their goals and flourish.

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. We caution investors that forward-looking statements are based on management’s beliefs and on assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management. When used, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “project,” “result,” “should,” “will,” “seek,” “target,” “see,” “likely,” “position,” “opportunity,” “outlook,” “potential,” “enthusiastic,” “future” and similar expressions which do not relate solely to historical matters are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions and are not guarantees of future performance, which may be affected by known and unknown risks, trends, uncertainties, and factors that are beyond our control, including risks related to our ability to meet our estimated forecasts related to stabilized cap rates, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, our tenants and the national and local economies. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, estimated, or projected. We expressly disclaim any responsibility to update our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise, except as required by law. Accordingly, investors should use caution in relying on past forward-looking statements, which are based on results and trends at the time they are made, to anticipate future results or trends.

Media Contact:

Jeremy P. Feakins

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Contact Address: 800 South Queen Street, Lancaster, PA 17603

Contact Email: jpf@ozfundinc.com

Contact Phone: 717 715 0238

Fund Website URL: www.ozfundinc.com

OZFund Video

We prepared this short video explaining our rental apartments/commercial space project in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Zoning approval has been received and we are marching forward with all the things we need to prepare for building permits! 

$15M MIXED-USE PROJECT SECURES ZONING APPROVALS

$15M MIXED-USE PROJECT SECURES ZONING APPROVALS

A roughly $15 million mixed-use project in southern Lancaster city cleared key zoning hurdles this week.

  • The city’s zoning board on Monday night unanimously approved a raft of variances for the project, shown above, which is designed to create affordable housing.
  • “It’s critically in short supply,” said the developer, Lancaster businessman Jeremy P. Feakins, who said he has owned the site — at 800 S. Queen St. — since 2006.
  • Feakins has long sought to redevelop the tract, formerly home of a store called Rebmans.
  • But his plans gained momentum when the site was included in a tax-incentive area known as an Opportunity Zone, a program established by the Trump administration’s signature tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
  • “It encourages developers to invest in distressed neighborhoods and turn buildings which are like ours into something nice for the benefit of the community,” said Feakins, a serial entrepreneur who was born and raised in England. He first came to Lancaster in the 1980s.

What’s the project: A new four-story building at the southwest corner of South Queen and Furnace streets, at the southern edge of Lancaster. The project manager is Professional Design & Construction Inc. based in Landisville.

  • The building is slated to include 72 affordable apartments with rents that would be within reach of people earning less than 80% of the area’s median income. Affordable housing is typically defined as costing no more than 30% of income.
  • The project could also bring a cafe, a small grocery and a medical/health care tenant to a section of the city where commerce is sparse, said Feakins, who works out of an office in a corner of the site.
  • His office would be converted into a day care, while an existing small warehouse would be demolished.
  • The zoning variances granted this week cover building height, setbacks, tenant mix, tree spacing and parking spaces. Officials agreed to allow fewer than the required number of spaces.
  • The extra height — about 10 feet — is needed to accommodate stairs leading to a planned roof garden that tenants can use to grow vegetables, flowers and other plants.

What’s next: More development work is needed before construction begins, which may not be until 2022, Feakins said. But the zoning approvals could help spur interest from investors.

  • Feakins said he is hoping to raise about $4 million from private investors, including himself, and borrow the remainder. 
  • Some investors may wait for other milestones, like the issuance of building permit, he said. “But zoning is the big one, in my experience anyway,” he added.
  • Feakins is chairman of Lancaster-based Ocean Thermal Energy Corp., which is developing technology to produce renewable energy and clean water. His development company is called OZ Fund Inc.

The bottom line: The South Queen Street project is one of only a handful of Central Pennsylvania projects taking advantage of the Opportunity Zone program. People with capital gains can lower their taxes by plowing their gains into Opportunity Zone projects.

  • Feakins said he is hoping to undertake other projects in Lancaster, as well as in York.
  • “There’s another city that needs affordable housing. Harrisburg does, too,” he said.

$15M Rebman’s redevelopment get zoning OK, 2023 opening expected