Housing Affordability and Cladding Cost Analysis

By Alex Fernandez, Senior Director of Advocacy, Vinyl Siding Institute

Housing affordability and workforce housing are pressing issues in the U.S. High housing costs can lead to financial instability, homelessness and displacement, which can negatively affect individuals, families and communities.

Addressing housing affordability is crucial to promoting economic opportunity and social equity. One way to reduce housing costs is using cost-effective building materials such as vinyl siding, which can lower construction and maintenance costs.

In 2023, VSI asked Dr. Elliot Eisenberg, Chief Economist for GraphsandLaughs, LLC, to analyze and compare the cost of various exterior claddings. You can read the report here. Compared to other building materials such as wood, brick and stucco, vinyl siding is less expensive to purchase and install, and requires less maintenance over time. By using vinyl siding, developers and builders can create more cost-effective housing options, helping to address the pressing need for affordable housing across the U.S.

Spotlight On Georgia

In Georgia, the housing affordability crisis is particularly severe, with many low-income residents struggling to find safe and affordable housing. Georgia is one of the most restrictive, if not the most restrictive, in terms of local governments banning building materials already approved in the state’s building code.

One of the most common issues in this state is local governments mandating masonry products and effectively banning any other more affordable exterior cladding. In 2023, VSI partnered with Habitat for Humanity, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and various other local organizations to work on a solution to this problem.

“Despite agreement among lawmakers and advocates that Georgia needs more quality affordable housing, the General Assembly this year took few steps to address the shortfall,” a recent Athens Banner-Herald article noted.

According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of over 400,000 affordable and available rental homes for low-income renters in the state. The situation is compounded by rising housing costs, with the median home price in Georgia increasing by over 14% in the past year.

The Athens Banner-Herald article stated: “Most of the bills aimed at housing problems failed to pass, foundering on the shoals of inter-chamber disagreements and controversy about the extent to which the state government can limit local housing regulations.”

Although few housing bills passed in 2023, VSI will continue to educate local governments that cost-effective building materials such as vinyl siding can help reduce the cost of housing construction and maintenance, making it easier for developers and builders to create more affordable housing options.

Housing affordability and workforce housing are crucial issues that affect businesses, individuals, families and communities. To address these issues, local government must explore innovative solutions such as using cost-effective building materials like vinyl siding.

By removing restrictions and promoting the use of vinyl siding in housing construction and maintenance, we can help reduce housing costs and create more affordable housing options for middle-class and lower-income families. This will help address the immediate housing affordability crisis and also promote economic opportunity, social equity and community resilience in the long run.