Special Report

Cities Where the Middle Class Can No Longer Afford Housing


To determine the cities where the middle class can no longer afford a home, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of households — homeowners and renters — that spend at least 30% of their income on housing of all those earning $45,000 to $74,999 annually in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Historically, we have used this income bracket to represent the middle class and are continuing to use this criteria as an approximation for the middle class across the United States. 

Housing cost data came from “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2019” report of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Median household income to median home value ratios also came from the JCHS report and are as of 2018, unless otherwise noted. There are 18 metro areas in which more than a third of households in the income bracket are “moderately” burdened (spending 30% to 50% of household income on housing costs) or “severely” burdened (upwards of 50%). 

Overall cost of living, including average rental cost, came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

Data on population, homeownership, and income distribution by quintile are for 2017 and came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

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