In light of the upcoming Presidential election, of course gaining a competitive edge is one of the most difficult aspects for the campaigners. But even with their growing calls for lessened taxes and increased minimum wages, candidates are missing the point: America’s lack of affordable housing contributes greatly to the root of many of their socio-economic problems. But why isn’t it being discussed in more detail?
The last two elections saw Obama so famously promoting affordable education and healthcare (‘Obamacare’), but housing affordability has still been somewhat ignored. The reason for its lack of publicity thus far is quite simple: most of the candidates simply haven’t started campaigning within the states where the worst cases of the housing crisis lie.
The fact is, of the top 20 most poverty stricken states, six of them (West Virginia, New Mexico, Indiana, Oregon, Montana and California) are yet to vote. And with over one in five people in New Mexico below the poverty line according to Poverty USA, it’s an outrage that candidates aren’t trying harder to fix this crisis.
With only three states (Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire) in the nation living at poverty rates of below 10% of their populations, this isn’t a housing crisis any more. This is a housing catastrophe.
We conducted a study of 78 cities across America, calculating the average salary required in order to purchase a home and live comfortably, which includes being able to purchase a median priced home with a 20% down payment, and cover expenses and other household debt.
Interestingly, San Francisco topped the list of least affordable, with a mammoth salary of $180,600 needed in order to purchase the average property costing $1,119,500 and live comfortably. Second and third on the list were San Jose and Los Angeles. And overall, Californian cities took four places in the top five, with Washington DC fourth and San Diego coming in fifth.
But it was Jackson, Missouri, that came in last on the list at number 78, with average home values sitting at $62,800 and a salary of at least $43,265 (91% of the state median) required to take out a loan.
Since the research, the candidates have gradually begun to up the ante on the housing crisis as the election winds down to the final 10 states: Indiana, Nebraska, West Virginia, Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, California, Montana, New Jersey and New Mexico.
As recently as April 19 (coincidentally the date of the New York election), Bernie Sanders tweeted, “On Sunday, I visited Brownsville. I came away more determined than ever to address the affordable housing crisis.”
The problem is that housing affordability is such a huge topic, it’s difficult to pinpoint where to begin. And to be honest, with so much media focus on what ‘ludicrous’ statement Trump has now made (like, “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich…”), it’s no wonder that real issues such as the desperate need for housing affordability have been shoved to the back of the priority list. But as the election draws to a close, it’s time for candidates to push policies that are going to make a real difference.
As Hillary Clinton tweeted just a few days ago, “A quarter of renters in the U.S. spend more than half their income on rent. We need to make housing more affordable.”
Here’s hoping that the affordability agenda doesn’t die when all of the election hype does.
This post originally appeared on my blog at the Huffington Post