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Cost of Renting, Owning Unaffordable for Many Workers Across the U.S.

With the home price recovery moving along faster than income growth, many workers across the country are finding hard work is not enough to pay the bills, according to the 2013 _Paycheck to Paycheck_ report from the ""Center for Housing Policy"":http://www.nhc.org/about/Center-Mission-Goals.html (CHP).


The report examined housing costs related to renting and owning for workers in five jobs that deal with travel and tourism across 207 metropolitan areas.

The occupations considered were housekeepers, wait staff, auto mechanics, front desk managers, and flight attendants. After exploring housing affordability for mid-career professionals in those areas, the report found only flight attendants could afford rent for a two-bedroom unit at fair market value in all 207 metros.

On the other hand, housekeepers and wait staff could not afford a two-bedroom unit in any of the 207 metros.

For auto mechanics, a two-bedroom apartment at fair market value was too expensive in 36 metro areas, and for front desk managers, 34 metro areas were unaffordable.

After observing the cost of owning a median-priced home in the 200-plus metros, data from the report revealed housekeepers and wait staff can afford to own in just 8 and 10 metro areas, respectively.

While flight attendants can rent in all 207 metro areas, they can afford to own in 182 markets.


According to the report, popular destinations such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, and New York were generally ruled out for even relatively high-earning flight attendants.

Auto mechanics can buy a median-priced home in 127 metro areas, and front desk managers can achieve homeownership in 133 metro areas.

""One of the most overlooked aspects of this recovery is that for many workers, incomes are not rebounding in step with local housing markets,"" said CHP senior research associate Maya Brennan, a co-author of the report. ""Even in a strong sector like travel and tourism, wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of renting or homeownership.""

""There is a fundamental tension between a housing recovery and housing affordability,"" added Lisa Sturtevant, CHP director. ""The solutions are higher wages or greater access to affordable housing.""

In the first quarter of 2013, San Francisco ranked as the most expensive city for renters. In order to afford a one bedroom apartment at fair market value, one would need an annual income of $56,920.

Honolulu came in second, where income required for a one-bedroom was $55,680. Other metros in the top five included Santa Ana, California ($51,760); Suffolk-Nassau, New York ($51,400); and San Jose, California ($50,480).

Some of the most unaffordable cities to rent were also the most expensive for homeownership. San Francisco ranked No. 1 as the priciest metro to own, where minimum annual income would need to be $179,097 to afford a median-priced home. San Jose followed, with an income requirement of $145,931. Rounding out the top five were Santa Ana ($131,868), New York ($119,133), and Honolulu ($115,949).

On the other end of the spectrum, South Bend, Indiana, was found to be the most affordable metro area, followed by three markets in Ohio--Lima, Mansfield, and Springfield. With a median home value of $75,000, Detroit also made the top five for housing affordability in the first quarter.

About Author: Esther Cho


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