Thursday, July 12, 2012

Housing affordability remains a problem

by Laura Williams, Center for Housing Policy

Today we released a new edition of our Paycheck to Paycheck database, analyzing how many of 74 occupations can afford to own and rent homes in over 200 metro areas. Despite low interest rates and, in most communities, lower home prices, many jobs in metro areas across the country do not pay enough for a family to afford shelter.

In many ways, I feel like that’s enough of a story. Unemployment remains a huge problem in this country, but many people with jobs still can’t afford a place to live. Full stop.

But there is more to tell, of course. Even when homeownership is affordable on paper, many families can’t buy because they can’t secure a loan, are wary of locking themselves down in a poor job market or don’t have the savings for a down payment. Renters, on the other hand, are facing higher prices in many markets; every family that doesn’t buy is likely renting (we hope not homeless) and supply has not been able to keep up in most places. Nor have paychecks.

In this edition of the database we’ve pulled out five jobs that are being targeted by veterans’ job training programs. These programs work with returning veterans, providing training and support as they transition to civilian life. The five we’ve identified—carpenter, dental assistant, electrician, firefighter, long-haul truck driver—are fairly typical, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they are generally at the higher-earning end of the jobs we look at for Paycheck. But for many, these jobs won’t pay enough to afford a home. For young people who have voluntarily left the job market to serve their country, this seems particularly egregious. We are hoping Paycheck to Paycheck is the beginning of a conversation about how we all can work together to provide more affordable housing—to veterans, and to all Americans.

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