2020 Candidates Are Highlighting Housing Affordability Issues. Here Are the Least Affordable Housing Markets

Democrats running for the 2020 election have rolled out bold platforms to tackle housing affordability, offering plans including refundable tax credits and building low-cost units to address the nation's affordable housing crisis.

And a new report highlights the immense scope of the issue facing Americans.

Of 480 U.S. counties surveyed, 74 percent were deemed unaffordable for average wage workers. The report, by ATTOM Data Solutions, also found that 61 percent of housing markets were less affordable than their historic average. Housing affordability was defined as costs being below a 28 percent debt to income ratio, assuming a 3 percent down payment.

Eight of the ten counties deemed least affordable of those surveyed were located in California.

  • Marin County, California, was the least affordable, requiring 116.8 percent of wages to purchase a home.
  • Kings County, New York, and Santa Cruz County, California, also required more more than 100 percent of annualized weekly wages to buy a home.
  • San Luis Obispo, California, required 91.4 percent of wages
  • Maui County, Hawaii, residents needed to spend 88.2 percent to purchase a home.
  • San Francisco County, Napa County, Monterey County, Orange County and Sonoma County, all in California, required between 80 and 86.9 percent of wages to purchase a home.

While many areas across the country are less affordable than they have been historically, Houston, Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus were all located in counties deemed to be affordable in the second quarter of 2019. Counties containing other large cities, like Cook County, Illinois, New York County and Bronx and Nassau County, were among the 39 percent of markets that were more affordable than their historic averages.

This past weekend, California Senator Kamala Harris announced a plan to confront the racial home ownership gap by providing $100 billion to help black individuals buy homes.

At the beginning of 1964, the median home sale price was $17,800. The median housing sale price in the first quarter of 2019 was $307,700, according to the Census. Yet between the start of 1964 and 2019, wages have increased by a smaller amount, rising from an average of $2.50 an hour to about $23.

The housing affordability crisis is particularly exacerbated in certain cities, like Los Angeles, where the average household pays more than 91.4 percent of their annual income to own a home, according to RealtyHop. Miami, New York, San Francisco and Oakland, where those seeking to buy a house would still have to pay 68.1 percent percent of their annual income, comprise the top five most expensive markets.

affordable housing
The tent city near the Little Earth housing project which set up in early August 2018 is along Cedar and Hiawatha Avenues in Minneapolis, Minnesota. KEREM YUCEL/AFP/Getty Images