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Incomes for housekeepers and wait staff were not enough to afford the fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in any of the 207 metro areas studied. The slow housing recovery in some markets made homeownership more affordable than renting – as long as workers had enough savings for a downpayment and could obtain a mortgage. In only eight of the metro areas could a housekeeper afford the mortgage on a median-priced home, and wait staff could afford to buy a typical home in just ten metro areas. Lagging home prices, however, were not universal across the study. In the 25 most expensive markets covered, which includes many popular vacation destinations, even relatively high-earning flight attendants could not afford to own a median-priced home.

CHP Director and National Housing Conference Vice President for Research Lisa Sturtevant, who joins NHC and CHP this week, notes that while a housing recovery is a relief to those who already own property, rising prices and rents have meant that many working individuals and families struggle to find affordable housing in their communities.

“The continued improvement in housing markets across the country is good news for current homeowners who saw the values of their homes plummet during the downturn. However, the turnaround in housing prices—driven by investors in many markets—along with the still-tight mortgage market, has kept it very difficult for moderate-income families to afford to a buy a home. The demand for rental housing has increased substantially in some markets, putting upward pressure on rents. And as prices and rents are rising, wages have been steady at best, and many working families remain priced out of many markets.”

“There is a fundamental tension between a housing recovery and housing affordability,” Sturtevant continued. “The solutions are higher wages or greater access to affordable housing.”

Read the report here.

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