The High Price of High Housing Costs on U.S. Communities
Housing affordability is increasingly cited among local government leaders as a barrier to economic development according to key findings on housing affordability recently released by ICMA, the International City/County Management Association.
To further explore the evolving role of U.S. local governments in addressing housing affordability in their communities, ICMA conducted secondary analysis of its major survey research along with other quantitative and qualitative resources. That analysis revealed that:
- Many communities see high housing costs as a barrier to economic growth
and ultimately community quality of life. In 2009, just over 14 percent
of local governments surveyed by ICMA identified the high cost of
housing as a barrier to economic development. Five years later, nearly
31 percent indicated that high housing costs were either a medium or
highly important barrier to economic development.
- Low-income levels, rather than a lack of affordable housing, may be
forcing residents into housing cost-burdened levels. More than one out
of every three American households spends in excess of 30 percent of
their income on housing costs, a level referred to as “housing cost
burdened” according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Nearly half of renters
also fall into this category, with roughly one in four renter households
spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs, a level
considered “severely housing cost burdened.” Forecasts indicate that
without intervention, even more households will become severely cost
burdened over the next decade.
Forty-one percent of community housing affordability programs are
supported by local government funding, according to ICMA’s 2015 Survey
of Local Government Sustainability Practices.
Web Site: http://www.icma.org
Communities of all sizes and in all regions of the country are
economically affected by the lack of affordable housing. Despite the
fact that such densely populated metropolitan areas as Los Angeles, San
Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City receive the greatest
national attention for their high housing costs, ICMA’s 2014 Economic
Development Survey results indicate that communities of all sizes have
been economically affected by the lack of affordable housing. Among many
small communities, higher housing costs may not be as significant as the
fact that residents are cost-burdened as a result of low-income levels.
Visit icma.org to access additional data and information about U.S. housing trends and to learn more about the surveys cited above and other ICMA survey research projects.