NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Candidates Curiously Quiet On Housing

September 28, 2000

Housing issues have played a significant role in most recent presidential campaigns. But not in this one, in which the two major candidates have rarely mentioned it, even though both have housing policy proposals.

Yet experts say the affordability of housing is an issue of considerable concern in many American towns and cities. According to the National Association of Home Builders, prices in many areas are simply beyond the reach of many potential buyers.

  • In San Francisco, where the median income is $74,900 a year, only 5.9 percent of home sales were affordable to families with that considerable income.
  • In San Jose, Calif., only 14.4 percent of homes on sale were within the range of families with a median income of $87,000.
  • New York City dwellers, with a median income of $56,200 could qualify for only 37.4 percent of homes on the market.
  • Things were a bit better in Chicago, where residents making the median of $67.900 a year found 56.3 percent of houses sold within their budgets.

Experts say the U.S. housing market hasn't kept up with the economy's unprecedented growth in many areas. That's because it's hard to build homes quickly to keep up with demand.

That prompts newly affluent home-buyers to bid up prices on existing homes, pricing out the middle class, which then bids up the rental market, pricing out lower-income families.

Source: Marjorie Valbrun, "Housing Is Forgotten Issue in Presidential Campaign," Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2000.


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