'Severely' overburdened homeowners, renters
How many people spend more than half their income on housing costs? More than you might think.
In the Baltimore area, one in five households with workers pulling down middle-income or lower-income wages fell into that pinched group in 2010, according to a new report by the Center for Housing Policy. That's nearly 85,000 households "severely burdened by their housing costs."
But it's not quite as bad as the nation overall, with nearly one in four of what the center dubs "working households" falling into that category.
The center, which looked at regions and states across the country, considered all renter and owner households with adults who made no more than 20 percent over their area's median income and worked at least 20 hours a week on average in 2010. That means retirees weren't part of the calculation -- and neither were those who were out of work or had their weekly hours cut below 20, a situation that plenty of Americans were stuck in that year.
"Had they been included, the number and share of low- and moderate-income households with severe housing cost burdens would have been higher: overall, 27 percent of low- and moderate income households in the United States — or 18.2 million of the more than 67 million households — had a severe housing cost burden in 2010, up from 25 percent in 2008," wrote the report's author, Laura Williams.
The share of severely burdened working households in the Baltimore area has fluctuated a bit the last few years. It was 19 percent in 2008 and 21 percent in 2009 before dipping to 20 percent in 2010.
The United States, by contrast, has steadily inched upward: 22 percent, 23 percent, 24 percent.
The report looked at both homeowners and renters, finding that tenants were hit with rising rents (up 4 percent) and declining income (down 4 percent) while homeowners' income fell faster than their housing costs (down 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively).
"Median housing costs for working homeowners declined modestly between 2008 and 2010," the center noted. "Meanwhile, the incomes of working homeowners declined even more, driven in large part by a decrease in the median number of hours worked per week."
Where do you stand?