When many veterans return home, the economic crash has presented challenges in addition to securing employment — finding affordable housing. The Center for Housing Policy has released an updated version of Paycheck to Paycheck, a report attached to an interactive database comparing average wages and housing costs in American metro areas.
The Summer 2012 Paycheck to Paycheck press release focuses on the various economic trends that have converged to make this a particularly difficult time to find affordable housing upon returning to civilian life. The rising cost of rent, lowered access to mortgage credit, and job-training careers that tend to start with low wages add to the challenges facing veterans. Veterans often face the cost of mental health care or physical therapy on top of housing costs.
Affording rent is difficult enough, and buying a house is getting more difficult even for those well established in blue collar careers. Many careers emphasized by job-training programs sponsored by the Department of Labor, in partnership with the military, do not yield enough in salary to make median-priced housing affordable. Occupations including carpenters, dental assistants, electricians, firefighters and truck drivers do not pay enough, on average, to cover the costs of median-priced homes in Baltimore.
Paycheck to Paycheck shows that in the Baltimore metro area, a median-priced home requires an annual income of at least $62,978. The chart also shows that an electrician, the highest-paid of the five listed careers, earns $10,000 less than that income requirement. (See the full Summer 2012 Paycheck to Paycheck here.)
This problem of affordability has a multitude of solutions, but many are not being pursued. First and foremost, Baltimore has the opportunity to enforce a law it has already passed, that has as its sole purpose to create quality affordable housing in new developments. The Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires that a board receive regular reports, but the Mayor has never appointed such a board. This is in her hands, and we are enthusiastic about moving this law forward. To learn more, view our recent call to action.