More residents spending more income on housing in Durham

Apr. 17, 2013 @ 08:07 PM

The share of residents spending 35 percent or more of their household incomes on rent has grown in Durham, according to a city report on affordable housing.

More than 30 percent of people spent 35 percent or more on rent, according to 2000 U.S. Census data cited in the report, “2012 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice for the City of Durham.”

That share grew to 37.6 percent in the five-year 2006-2010 American Community Survey estimates.

Bill Rowe, general counsel and director of advocacy for the N.C. Justice Center, a Raleigh-based group that advocates for low-income people, said housing is considered affordable if it does not make up more than 30 percent of a household’s income. Rowe said there’s a “tremendous shortage” of affordable housing everywhere.

“Incomes have still not kept up with where rents are,” he said. “The housing market is rebounding, but incomes aren’t rebounding … there’s just never been enough, and that … hasn’t gotten any better for folks.”

Rowe called for planning to make sure communities that may see future transit development investments keep affordable-housing options. He spoke Wednesday in an interview after a city-hosted symposium on affordable housing and transit.

An additional half-cent sales tax went into effect in Durham and Orange counties April 1 to raise money for new bus and rail service.

Transit plans in both counties call for agency and local governments to begin by improving bus service.

Eventually, the tax is also supposed to underwrite the construction of a light-rail connection between Durham and Chapel Hill. Also, city leaders have reported mixed messages from top state political leaders about state funding support for rail-based transit in the Triangle.

“There’s new resources being collected now in Durham, and now also in Orange County for transit investment, and studies have shown and history shows that as you start to expand transit, if you have light rail, or you start building those stations in communities, those property values go up,” Rowe said.

He called for efforts to make sure that people aren’t displaced and for trying to “open up more housing opportunities” for people if those projects move forward.

The city’s affordable housing report, released in February, also found that white households continue to make up the largest share of home ownership, at 58.8 percent in 2010, according to U.S. Census data, compared to 33.7 percent for African American households, the second largest share of homeowners by race.

The report also pointed to an increase in the share of homeowners with a mortgage whose monthly owner costs exceeds 30 percent of their incomes – above the percentage considered affordable - also showed an increase between the 2000 U.S. Census and the 2006-2010 American Community Survey.

The report said that homeowners whose monthly costs were 30 percent or more of their incomes grew from about 19 percent, according to 2000 U.S. Census data, to about 24 percent in the 2006-2010 American Community Survey estimate.