Friday, October 26, 2012

Housing Reports

I've come across two reports that those of you who are interested in affordable housing issues should read.  The first, Housing Landscape 2012, looks at the changes in housing affordability from 2008-2012.  The map on page 3 is particularly interesting.  The cost of housing in California is the highest in the country, something all Californians already know.  But there have been major increases in housing costs in the states most likely to vote for Mitt Romney, that vast part of the country from below the Mason-Dixon line through the formerly industrial Midwest.  In part, these increases result from lower incomes, but landlords have also been able to use the housing bubble aftermath to increase rents on desperate households.  In addition, many of those states have few to no tenant protections, even for those tenants who are evicted as a result of their landlords' foreclosure (although even those tenants are covered under the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act).  Tenants in those states may feel particularly hard-pressed.

The second report, Losing Ground, analyzes the cost of housing and transportation ("place" costs) for major metropolitan areas and finds that these costs have increased for moderate-income households and they now take up more than 50% of total income for those households.  I have two small quibbles.  The first is that it doesn't look at costs for people who live outside the Metropolitan Area and have to transport themselves to the area for work.  This is particularly common in California, where many people drive long distances from one Metropolitan Area to another.  The second is that it doesn't include in analysis of the cost for tenants of the burden of housing insecurity.  The report found that moderate-income owners have a greater cost burden than tenants in the same area.  But what they don't include is the cost of forced relocation, particularly in areas with little to no tenant protections.  Moderate-income households, already running a monthly deficit, can be forced to raise several thousand dollars to move within a month or two at any time.

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