Friday, June 14, 2019

Housing crunches in urban areas spill over to smaller towns

Change in percentage of county residents with severe cost burden for housing in 2010-17
(Stateline map; click on the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version)
High housing prices have chased some urban commuters and retirees to nearby suburbs and exurbs, driving up housing prices in those areas, Tim Henderson reports for Stateline. "Small towns of fewer than 10,000 people grew more quickly than earlier in the decade, attracting more than 142,000 new people last year, according to a Stateline analysis of U.S. Census Bureau estimates, driven in part by retirees seeking affordable housing," Henderson reports. In 2011-12, the gain was only 8,000.

Sahuarita, a community of 30,000 near Tucson, added 800 in 2016-17, the largest rise in a decade. And there are plans to build retirement homes in nearby Benson, which has fewer than 5,000 people and lost population every year until gaining 31 residents last year. "The city hopes to mimic the success of rural retirement areas such as The Villages in Florida, a development that contributed to a more than doubling of Fruitland Park’s population to about 10,000," Henderson reports.

Housing prices in rural areas generally increase when more affluent commuters move in, which puts financial pressure on rural families. "Nearly one-fourth of the nation’s most rural counties have seen a sizeable increase this decade in the number of households spending at least half their income on housing, a category the federal government calls 'severely cost-burdened,'" Henderson noted in an earlier story. That's mainly due to local job pressures and lesser federal incentives for affordable housing, but the influx of urban commuters and retirees in some areas has also affected some areas.

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