Increases in housing costs are outpacing wage hikes
C. Armas; The Associated Press
WASHINGTON- Many more low- and moderate-income working families are
spending at least half their salaries on rent or mortgages, according
to a study released Tuesday by affordable housing advocates.
More than 4 million households fell into that category last year,
a 67 percent increase in four years. The surge is because increases
in housing prices are outstripping wages, said the Center for Housing
Policy and its parent organization, the National Housing Conference.
The result is many people must cut spending elsewhere, such as retirement
savings, researchers said.
Pedro Aguilar, 37, his wife and their two teenage daughters moved
from San Francisco two years ago because housing prices had become
unaffordable. They moved to Antioch, Calif., an hour away, but now
find themselves again struggling to pay the rent.
Aguilar, a janitor, and his wife make about $3,000 a month. They pay
$1,500 a month for a three-bedroom apartment, but their rent is set
to increase by $300 next month. Aguilar said his yearly raises of
40 cents an hour don't cover the rising housing costs.
"A long time ago, when I was in Mexico, I thought I could make
enough money to live better in the United States. Now, I don't know,"
The study identified low- to moderate-income families as those who
worked the equivalent of a full-time job and earned between the minimum
wage of $10,712 and 120 percent of the median income in their area.
The report dispels the notion that the housing crunch is most severe
for renters and for the working poor in cities, researchers said.
Some 61 percent of working people who spend more than half their salaries
on housing live outside cities, the study found.
And between 1999 and 2001, the number of homeowners who spent more
than half their income on housing rose 36 percent, outpacing the 24
percent rise among renters.