Report: Unequal housing burden curtails Latino spending, saving

The burden of housing costs leaves Latinos in Rhode Island with little purchasing power, according to data released Thursday by HousingWorks RI and the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University. More

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Report: Unequal housing burden curtails Latino spending, saving

COURTESY HOUSINGWORKS RI
ACCORDING TO A new report by HousingWorks RI and the Latino Policy Institute, more than half of these Latino households – 55 percent – spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, compared with 48 percent of renter households across the state regardless of ethnicity.
Posted 2/27/14

PROVIDENCE – The burden of housing costs leaves Latinos in Rhode Island with little purchasing power, according to data released Thursday by HousingWorks RI and the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University.

HousingWorks RI measured housing costs in Latino households and found that three-quarters of households rent, compared with 40 percent of households statewide. More than half of these Latino households – 55 percent – spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, compared with 48 percent of renter households across the state regardless of ethnicity, said Nicole Lagace, the interim executive director for HousingWorks RI.

Likewise, a third of Latinos who rent, about 36 percent spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing, whereas just over a quarter of renter households across Rhode Island spend that much, Lagace said.

The high cost of housing causes weaker purchasing power in discretionary spending, the analysis by HousingWorks RI showed. If these cost-burdened Latino renter households (who spend an estimated $152.7 million on rent and utilities each year) had more affordable housing costs, they would spend an estimated $70 million annually on rent and utility payments, freeing roughly $82 million in income circulate into other parts of the economy, the analysis found.

The median Latino household income in Rhode Island is $30,329, compared with the statewide median household income of $54,554.

Lagace added that annual savings generated by alleviating housing cost burdens would allow more Latinos to pursue such dreams as homeownership and higher education, or even to purchase necessities such as health care and reliable transportation.

“We are troubled that so many Latino renters are spending such large percentages of their incomes on housing because it means they have little money left over for nondiscretionary items, let alone to fully participate in their local economies,” said Latino Policy Institute Director Anna Cano Morales. “If we can address housing affordability for Latinos, this young and fast-growing demographic can play an even larger role in Rhode Island’s economic growth.”

According to the Latino Policy Institute and HousingWorks RI, 138,550 Latinos live in Rhode Island, constituting about 13 percent of the population. That represents a 51.7 percent increase since, 2000, the agencies said.

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