When you sit down to craft a personal or family budget, housing accounts for a sizable chunk of that. According to standard definitions of “affordable housing,” you shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing. Unfortunately, many people spend much more than that on the basic necessity of housing.

And to further add to our housing woes has been the economic crisis as people lost jobs, missed payments and found themselves facing foreclosures. Even dropping interest rates can’t help if people who lost value their homes can’t refinance, as this Wall Street Journal blog post points out.

As the title of the blog says, “We can’t ignore housing anymore.” It must become a part of our conversations, our plans and our policies.

So what can you do? In a recent post, we offered a sample letter and contacts for elected officials so you can voice your opinion about proposed cuts to housing programs. You also can talk about the need for affordable housing in your circles of influence. Help others understand “affordable housing” doesn’t mean “substandard” or “public” housing. It means housing that teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers and young professionals just starting their careers can afford to buy or rent.

Stress the fact that housing equals jobs. Where there’s construction there are people who are employed, earning a paycheck and spending their money with local businesses.

You might not work in the affordable housing realm, but you’re impacted by it nonetheless and it’s important to become an advocate and a voice for affordable housing.

Have you engaged in a conversation about affordable housing lately? What other ways can you be an advocate?