Released March 25 by the Vermont Housing Council and the Vermont Housing Awareness Campaign, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont effectively illustrates both how trends in state housing affordability can be described with multiple state and national data sources, and how housing costs can appropriately be viewed within the context of a state’s economy.
Published annually since 2002, this look at the affordability of rental and for-sale housing in Vermont is effective because it combines state-level data from federal sources, including several Census Bureau surveys, HUD, and the Social Security Administration, with analyses of data from the state’s Department of Labor, Department of Taxes, the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, and the Vermont Real Estate Information Service. Additionally, this report relies on studies conducted by several national organizations like NLIHC to provide a broader context for Vermont’s affordability crisis.
Among the findings drawn from this comprehensive approach is that only two of Vermont’s top 10 employment sectors pay a median wage that is sufficient to afford the state’s average two-bedroom Fair Market Rent. Similarly, only 29% of the homes sold in the state last year would have been affordable to a household earning the state’s median income. The report argues that significant cuts in federal housing resources, including a 20% reduction in CDBG funds and a 12% reduction in HOME funds since 2002, have exacerbated the housing affordability problem, resulting in higher levels of housing cost burden and fewer viable alternatives for those in Vermont’s homeless shelters.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place is available at www.housingawareness.org/publications/housing-wages-2008.pdf.