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CNT's H+T Index on Affordability in Carrboro, NC
Does the Cost of Housing Tell the Whole Story? Not in Carrboro
For years now, residents and elected officials alike have expressed concern over the affordability of housing in Orange County and the Triangle. Durham’s “Pennies for Housing” and Chapel Hill’s recent “Affordable Housing Bond” attest to the central role housing affordability has played in civic discourse in our area. Moreover, research suggests that the cost of an area’s housing is among the most prominent variables that factor into people’s decisions on where [to] settle.
Which is why it’s nice to see articles that help us make investment decisions. Take a recent one by Derrick Miller published on the SmartAsset site. Miller uses the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s definition of “housing cost-burdened”—i.e., when people spend more than 30% of their income on housing—to estimate the percentage of folks in various U.S. cities who are burdened by their housing costs. His calculations reveal that Newark, NJ is the nation’s “most severely housing cost-burdened” city in the U.S. and that Cary, NC is the least housing cost-burdened city.
Miller says, “altogether nearly 48% of households in Newark spend at least 30% of their income on housing.” On the other hand, he notes that with less than 15% of Cary homeowners spending more than 30% of their income on housing, “Cary residents are some of the most financially flexible in the nation.”
But is Miller telling the whole story? Would anyone seriously argue that a $300,000 house located 10 miles from the nearest grocery store cost homeowners the same as a $300,000 house located within ½ mile walking distance of a grocery store, offices, shops, and restaurants? In fact, when we factor in households’ transportation costs, a different cost picture emerges.
To account for households’ transportation costs, I entered Newark, NJ and Cary, NC into the Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index—a tool developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) that includes both the cost of housing AND the cost of transportation to more closely reflect the affordability of places.View Story
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