By: Khloe Greenwood
April 18, 2019 —
On April 16, the National Housing Conference (NHC) released its 2018 Paycheck to Paycheck report and database highlighting housing affordability challenges for workers in 81 occupations living in 259 metropolitan areas in the United States. The annual report focuses on the affordability challenges of workers in five vocational categories — carpenters; electricians; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning mechanics; maintenance workers; and plumbers — and provides average rent and homeownership costs for each profession in these metropolitan areas. For example, the report notes that, on average, maintenance workers are able to afford rent for a three-bedroom home in 20 percent of the 259 metro areas surveyed, while they can afford a median-priced home with a 3 percent down payment in only 23 percent of the 259 metro areas.
The report finds that renting is a more financially viable option than homeownership for workers in these professions, but average salaries are not keeping pace with rent for households requiring more than two bedrooms. Regarding homeownership, the report notes that mortgage products requiring down payments of less than 10 percent, such as the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) 3.5 percent down payment option, allow more first-time buyers and low-income borrowers in these professions to attain homes.
The report recommends a multi-track policy solution to resolve the shortage of affordable housing, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnerships programs, and FHA and USDA home loans. The report also addresses how Opportunity Zones (OZs) could be instrumental in developing affordable housing in low-income areas and how OZs may be used with other federal programs. In conclusion, NHC’s report observes that the five specified vocations are critical to the growth and sustainability of any community and that, although these federal programs are crucial to helping low- and middle-income workers, current resources are not enough to meet the need for affordable housing.