Special Report

Cities Where the Middle Class Can No Longer Afford Housing

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13. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 41.2%
> Median home value: $380,000
> Median household income: $67,902
> Homeownership rate: 60.2%

Sacramento is one of only 13 metro areas nationwide where over 40% of middle-class households spend a larger than recommended share of their income on housing. Of all middle-class households, 7% spend over half of their income on housing.

In the last five years, housing has become far less affordable in the metro area. As recently as 2013, the median home value was 4.1 times greater than the median household income. As of 2018, the typical home in the metro area cost 5.3 times the annual income of the typical household .

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12. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 41.6%
> Median home value: $420,000
> Median household income: $82,133
> Homeownership rate: 60.0%

Seattle is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the United States. In the last five years, the number of people living in the area climbed from 3.6 million to 3.9 million. The 8.9% population growth is more than double the national population growth over the same period of 3.8%. The rapidly growing population has driven up demand for housing and likely contributed to reduced housing affordability. The typical area home is worth nearly six times the median income in the area, when as recently as 2013, the typical home was worth five times the median income.

Currently, over 40% of middle-income households in the metro area spend at least 30% of their income on housing, a larger share than in all but 11 other major metro areas.

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11. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 43.3%
> Median home value: $330,000
> Median household income: $61,994
> Homeownership rate: 63.0%

The Riverside metro area is one of several in California metros where the middle-class is being squeezed financially by an expensive housing market. The typical metro area home costs about 5.6 times as much as the median income in the metro area, well above the 4.1 ratio nationwide. The disproportionately high housing prices put a considerable cost burden on the area’s middle-class residents. Of metro area households earning between $45,000 to $74,999 annually, 43.3% spend at least 30% of their income on housing. Nationwide, 28.4% of middle-income earners are similarly burdened by housing costs.

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10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 45.2%
> Median home value: $410,000
> Median household income: $85,691
> Homeownership rate: 61.8%

Boston is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. The typical area home is worth $410,000, more than double the $200,000 value of the typical American home. The high real estate prices make it a tough market for middle-income earners. Of all metro area households earning $45,000 to $74,999 annually, 10% spend over half of their income on housing, and 45.2% spend 30% or more of their income.

The city of Boston offers its lower-income residents a range of options to improve housing affordability, including subsidized rentals and housing vouchers. Earlier this year, Boston mayor Marty Walsh approved $26 million to be put toward hundreds of affordable housing units in neighborhoods across the city. Still, nearly 68% of households in the $30,000 to $44,999 income bracket are unduly burdened by housing costs.

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9. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 50.0%
> Median home value: $415,000
> Median household income: $75,368
> Homeownership rate: 51.8%

The New York metro area is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. Housing rental prices in the area are 53.1% more expensive than they are nationwide, on average. Additionally, the typical home in the area is worth $415,000, more than double the $200,000 value of the typical American home. Throughout the metro area across all income brackets, one in every three homeowners and just over half of all renters spend over 30% of their income on housing.

New York’s middle class is especially burdened by the area’s high housing costs. Of all area households earning $45,000 to $74,999 annually, 13.6% spend over half of their income on housing, and 50.0% spend 30% or more of their income.