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Housing Crisis Hits Key Workers Hardest

Written by on Wednesday, 13 August 2003 7:00 pm

The housing crisis is far from over and often hit hardest are hard working employees who are vital to thriving communities.

Most of the nation's elementary school teachers, police officers, licensed practical nurses, retail salespeople or janitors don't qualify to purchase the median priced home, based on the median income, according to the National Housing Conference's (NHC) "Paycheck to Paycheck: Wages and the Cost of Housing in America."

The Washington, D.C.-based, non-profit NHC develops resources and policies to increase the availability of affordable housing.

Conducted by NHC's research affiliate, Center for Housing Policy, "Paycheck to Paycheck" found that nationwide the median annual salaries for each of these five occupations fell short of the nearly $50,000 necessary to qualify for the median priced home of $156,000.

The earnings of licensed practical nurses, retail sales persons and janitors lag by substantial margins and families dependent solely on the salary of a janitor or retail salesperson pay in excess of what is considered affordable for a two-bedroom apartment in all of the 60 individual metropolitan areas studied.

The most expensive markets for all community workers to buy or rent a home were in the San Francisco Bay Area cites of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

In San Jose, for example, a janitor would need 216 percent of his or her monthly income to make a monthly mortgage payment for a median priced home. An elementary school teacher would need 106 percent of his or her monthly income in San Francisco and a retail salesperson would need 158 percent of his or her monthly income in Oakland.

The study also found:

  • Families dependent on a police officer's salary are priced out of almost half, or 28, of the 60 areas studied.

  • Households dependent on one teacher's salary cannot afford to buy a home in 32 localities.

  • Licensed practical nurses cannot afford to buy a home in all but three of the 60 areas.

  • Janitors and retail salespersons require more than double their salaries in many of the metropolitan areas, up to three times their salaries in expensive areas, and up to seven times their salaries in the most expensive areas.

    "While there is a growing understanding of the housing challenges we face as a nation, this new data prompts us to take an even closer look at the affordability concerns for working families, as well as the related social and financial implications for our communities," said NHC Executive Director Conrad Egan.

    "We need to continue to develop policies at both the local and national level that recognize the challenges faced by police officers, firefighters, licensed practical nurses and others who provide vital services, yet they are unable to find affordable housing," Egan said.

    Affordable housing is critical to the economic and social well-being of a community -- access to a suitable labor pool is one of the top three considerations in business location decisions.

    Other studies have shown the benefits of home ownership include reduced crime, higher education and a better overall quality of life.

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      About the author, Broderick Perkins

    Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.