Study says Mass housing affordability remains a problem


While a slumping real estate market has subtracted equity for homeowners across Massachusetts and led to substantially lower home prices in some areas, a study released February 24 asserts that stagnant incomes and rising rental housing costs have contributed to continuing affordability problems in Massachusetts.

The Center for Housing Policy study, released locally by Citizens Housing and Planning Association in Boston, found that while the share of working households with a severe housing cost burden increased significant between 2008 and 2010 in 24 states, there was not a significant increase in the percentage of such households in Massachusetts.

The annual study is based on Census data on housing costs and income. The study found 24 percent of households in Massachusetts that worked at least 20 hours per week paid more than half their income toward housing costs during 2010. That’s up from 22 percent in 2009 and the same percentage as in 2008.

The report defines working households as those that work at least 20 hours per week and with income of no more than 120 percent of the median income in their area. In 2010, about one third of all owner-occupied households nationally met the working household definition.

CHAPA officials said the study reflects the plight of Massachusetts housing owners with decent jobs who are struggling to pay their bills and on the employer side, the difficulty of attracting and retaining workers because of housing costs. Incomes at 120 percent of the area median income total $104,040 in Greater Boston, $88,680 in Greater Springfield and $90,600 in Worcester County, according to CHAPA.