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By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Declining real estate values over the past four years have done little to make homes more affordable for the average Rhode Islander, HousingWorks RI said in its annual housing report released Friday.
The number of communities where a household earning the state median income could afford the median-priced single-family home dropped from nine in the summer of 2010 to six in 2011, the HousingWorks 2012 Fact Book said.
Although single-family home prices fell 7 percent between 2010 and 2011 percent, the median household income also fell, from $54,119 in 2010 to $52,254 this year, keeping affordability out of reach for many.
In 2011 the steady escalation of rents seen over the past decade subsided, with the average two-bedroom apartment rent declining from $1,165 in 2010 to $1,150 in 2011, according to survey data from Rhode Island Housing.
But with wages stagnant or declining, the gap between the $46,000 needed to afford the average two-bedroom apartment (where housing costs no more than 30 percent of income) and what people are making remains large.
With the state’s median renter income at $30,505, HousingWorks estimates there are 90,000 renters in Rhode Island with at least a $10,000 gap between what they need to afford a two bedroom and what they make.
“We can’t overstate the importance of having an adequate supply of affordable homes for Rhode Islanders,” said HousingWorks Executive Director Nellie M. Gorbea in a news release accompanying the Fact Book. “Until the shortage of long-term affordable housing is addressed, Rhode Island will continue to be vulnerable to instabilities in the housing market, including foreclosures.”