While there have been marked social and economic improvements for many Native American households in the past decade, a new report from HUD shows that housing conditions among Native Americans still lag far behind the national average. Continuity and Change: Demographic, Socioeconomic, and Housing Conditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives is an interim report on HUD’s National Assessment of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Housing Needs.
This report documents the housing needs and conditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIANs) using data from American Community Survey five-year data (2006-2010). The authors compare conditions of AIAN and non-AIAN populations in tribal areas (data for individual tribal areas is not available), surrounding counties, metropolitan counties without any tribal area, and nonmetropolitan counties without any tribal area patterns. The final report will also incorporate field research data, including a major in-person household survey, to compliment and expand upon this report’s findings.
Six in ten AIAN households live in tribal areas and surrounding counties. Nationwide, just 54% of AIAN households own their homes compared to 65% of non-AIAN households. However, homeownership in tribal areas is much higher, at 67%, in large part due to lower costs of housing on tribal lands. The authors also found that in 2010, vacancy rates in tribal areas (14%) and surrounding counties (13%) exceeded the national average of 11%. The authors note that this high vacancy rate may mean that vacant units are too expensive for low-income households, too small for larger households, of poorer quality than other housing in the area, or far from employment centers. Further, in these tribal areas, 13% of housing units are mobile homes, nearly twice the rate of housing units in surrounding counties.
Many AIAN households face housing quality issues, including overcrowding and incomplete plumbing or kitchen facilities, at higher rates than the national average. For example, 8% of AIAN housing units are overcrowded compared to a national average of just 3%. Tribal areas and surrounding counties experience even higher rates of overcrowding at 11% and 10% respectively. Although AIAN households are one-third less likely to experience lack of plumbing and kitchen facilities than they were a decade ago, 3% of AIAN households still lack plumbing facilities (more than five times higher than the national average) and 3% also lack kitchen facilities (more than three and half times the national average).
Cost burden is on the rise for AIAN households with nearly 40% of AIAN households spending more than 30% of their income on housing, a six percentage point increase from 2000. Almost two in ten are severely cost burdened (spending more than 50% of their income on housing). Housing is more affordable in tribal areas and surrounding counties, with one-quarter of AIAN households facing a cost burden. However, certain regions in the U.S. fare worse; half of AIAN households in the California/Nevada region, experiencing a cost burden.
AIAN households are more likely to be low income than their non-AIAN counterparts, exacerbating already high levels of housing problems. The average AIAN household income in 2006–2010 was $49,000 (about $22,000 less than the non-AIAN average). The poverty rate for the AIAN population rose from 24% in 2008 to 28% in 2010. The poverty rate among the non-AIAN population also increased, but just from 12.9% in 2008 to 15% in 2010. Social and economic conditions also varied among AIAN households by geography, with those on tribal areas faring worse on most indicators. For example, the AIAN poverty rate ranged from 32% in tribal areas to 25% in the surrounding counties, and the unemployment rate ranged from 16% in tribal areas to 12% in other nonmetropolitan counties.
The authors conclude the interim report by acknowledging the need to incorporate field research but also suggest that this report points to trends that must be addressed by the policy community.
This report can accessed at: http://bit.ly/1eXJMSX