The Californians Are Coming. So Is Their Housing Crisis.
Conor Dougherty with the New York Times details how the housing affordability crisis is spreading to other parts of the country.
That’s because as bad as California’s affordable housing problem is, it isn’t really a California problem. It is a national one. From rising homelessness to anti-development sentiment to frustration among middle-class workers who’ve been locked out of the housing market, the same set of housing issues has bubbled up in cities across the country. They’ve already visited Boise, Nashville, Denver and Austin, Texas, and many other high-growth cities. And they will become even more widespread as remote workers move around.
Housing costs are relative, of course, so anyone leaving Los Angeles or San Francisco will find almost any other city to have a bountiful selection of homes that seem unbelievably large and cheap. But for those tethered to the local economy, the influx of wealthier outsiders pushes housing costs further out of reach.
According to a recent study by Redfin, the national real estate brokerage, the budget for out-of-town home buyers moving to Boise is 50 percent higher than locals’ — $738,000 versus $494,000. In Nashville, out-of-towners also have a budget that is 50 percent higher than locals. In Austin it’s 32 percent, Denver 26 percent and Phoenix 23 percent.
Frustrating as this is for prospective home buyers, the real pain is felt among low-income tenants, a quarter of whom — about 11 million U.S. households — are already spending more than half their pretax income on rent. As rising costs filter through the market and the rent burden gets more severe, food budgets get squeezed, families double up and the most vulnerable end up on the streets.
In city after city, studies have shown that homelessness has a distinct financial tipping point. As soon as the local rent burden reaches the point where renters on average spend more than a third of their income on housing, the number of people on the streets starts to rise sharply, according to researchers at Zillow and elsewhere.
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