One-in-three households with mortgage cost-burdened in R.I.

This graphic shows the percentage of homeowners, with mortgages, who are housing cost burdened, by income level./Courtesy HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.
MORE THAN ONE-IN-THREE households in Rhode Island with a mortgaged property are housing cost-burdened. Above, a graphic shows the percentage of homeowners, with mortgages, who are housing cost burdened, by income level. / COURTESY HOUSINGWORKS RI AT ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY

PROVIDENCE – More than one-in-three households in Rhode Island with a mortgaged property are housing cost-burdened, and the rate rises to one-in-two for renters, according to research by HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.

The 2017 Housing Fact Book, released Wednesday, shows that the real estate gains in value seen over the past two years are also impacting housing affordability, as a tightening market drives prices upward.

The number of towns and cities in Rhode Island that are affordable to buyers or renters whose incomes fall below $50,000 has dropped from previous years. Only two communities – Providence excluding the East Side and Central Falls – offer homes for sale that fit a household income under $50,000.

Even at higher income levels – those exceeding the Rhode Island household median – homebuyers have seen the number of municipalities shrink where they can reasonably expect to find available stock.

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The homebuyers with a median income of $70,000 have 12 communities in which the median household cost is affordable, defined as having housing costs, including utilities, being less than 30 percent of income.

Renters are having an increasingly difficult time, as well. Households earning $50,000 or less could afford rent in only six towns or cities in the state. Households earning $30,000 or less could not afford a two-bedroom apartment in any city or town.

The implications of the housing costs reach into education, food security and the greater economic activity of the state, according to Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.

By spending so much money on housing, a basic need, households that are financially burdened cannot afford to spend money on other needs.

The burden in Rhode Island has economic implications as well, she said, in an interview. It makes finding housing a challenge for many employees.

“You also add costs if people have to have longer commutes and live further and further out. It makes it challenging to attract workers and to retain workers if housing costs are not affordable,” she said.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com. Follow on Twitter at MaryF_MacDonald.

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