The November edition of Affordable Housing Finance magazine reports that 92% of apartments in the top 25 metropolitan areas of the United States are unaffordable to retail salespeople, counter clerks, cashiers and others similarly employed unless they spend a minimum of 30% of their income on rent. This report was based on data provided by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
A careful study of 21,000 census tracts in these markets identified just 1,000 tracts in which at least half of the rental housing would be affordable to these workers applying this standard. In a majority of the areas analyzed, less than 8% of the census tracts were tagged as "affordable" to retail sales workers.
San Diego was the least friendly market without a single census tract classified as affordable. Kansas City was the most amenable with 26% of the tracts studied found to be affordable.
In 2002, approximately 15 million people worked in the retail sales industry.
Hard working American families are falling out of the middle class into worse economic straits each year. Outsourcing, corporate downsizing and a lack of skills for engaging the new economy all combine to place downward pressure on individuals and families.
The nation's lack of affordable workforce housing is becoming a major issue for every urban area in the country.
All the while, the federal government continues to cut back on the very programs designed to provide support and a safety net for working families whose economic future depends on more stable and affordable housing options.
Problems at the very bottom are even worse. Still, the current situation facing our nation guarantees that a steady stream of our fellow citizens are drifting further and further downward with no end in sight.
Mark Tooley interviews Bishop Will Willimon
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