Affordable Housing Data from the 2013 American Community Survey – Part 3

The following information has been extracted from the American Community Survey and paints a rather bleak picture for housing affordability in Dennis. This information was made available to the town leaders participating in the March 3rd Housing Forum hosted by the Dennis Board of Selectmen.

Finally, some information on home owners.

  • 82.6% of owners live in structures with just one unit either single family home on a separate lot (79.8%) or a detached dwelling on a lot with another home (2.8%)
  • 3.2% are in duplex units and 14% are in multi-family settings.

As most would suspect, we are a heavily single family community when it comes to home ownership. While we have a few multi-family ownership properties, they make up a small portion of the overall housing picture.

  • 8.7% of owners are in one or no bedroom units
  • 91.3% are in units with two or more bedrooms
  • 36.2% of owners are in single person households
  • 13.7% of owners are in 4 or more person households

These numbers are both frightening and interesting. While the American Community Survey does not directly provide this information, the large percentage of single person households owning homes is most likely due to the age of our population. It more accurately reflects a larger number of widows and widowers remaining in their homes than single younger residents buying into the housing market. It does suggest that there is a continuing, and growing, need for more housing opportunities for our senior residents looking to downsize.

  • 32.7% of owners pay more than 30% of their income for housing costs
  • Of owners earning less than $35,000 annually 77% pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs
  • 5,205 households reporting in 2013, 1,702 are paying over 30% of the monthly income for housing.
  • Mortgage Holders with Owner Costs exceeding 30% of income 1,205 (42.4%)
  • Ownership units with no mortgage with housing costs exceeding 30% of income 493 (21.6%)

Some scary numbers, nearly one-third of our home owner population is paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs. Essentially, this means that one-third of our population is cutting corners in other aspects of their lives simply to pay the mortgage, insurance and taxes. There are 1,176 home owners earning less than $35,000 annually, 77% or 906 of these are paying over 30% of their monthly income for housing costs. Really scary is the 493 home owners paying over 30% of their monthly income to home ownership costs – while not having a mortgage. Most likely, this latter category reflects elderly home owners who are living on fixed incomes that fall below the poverty rate.

  • Median Household Income 2013 $50,672.
  • 70% of median income $35,470 (70% of median typical ownership yardstick for affordable housing)
  • 2,602 owner households earning $50,672 or less annually
  • 1,265 owner households earning less than $35,000

For home ownership, and affordable home ownership, Median Household Income and 70% of Median Household income are critical figures. Median household income is the point at which half the people earn either above or below that point. Generally, people earning 70% of median household income are potentially eligible for affordable home ownership programs.

  • Housing Buying Power at Median Household Income $168,906
  • 401 Owner occupied housing valued under $150,000
  • Buying power at 70% of median income $118,233
  • 216 (est) Owner occupied housing valued under $118,000

Half the households in Dennis, under traditional measures, have the financial wherewithal to pay up to just under $169,000 for a home and not anticipate spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs. For those at 70% of median income, they need to find homes selling for $118,000 to get their foot in the door and not expect to pay more than 30% of their income on home ownership costs. Based upon the American Community Survey, there were about 216 ownership units in Dennis valued at or under $118,000. A far cry below the 1,265 households who might be able to purchase such housing.

  • Ownership Affordable Housing Deficit – Two Measurements
  • Paying over 30% of income on ownership costs – Deficit of 1,702 affordable units
  • Buying Power – deficit of 1,049 affordable ownership housing units

Finally, what is our affordable housing ownership  deficit? If we look at providing housing for all residents presently paying more than 30% of their monthly income towards housing, we need to find  ownership housing for as many as 1,702 households. If we look simply at the buying power of people earning up to 70% of median income, we have an affordable ownership deficit of 1,049 housing units.

When combined with the rental affordable housing deficit, Dennis needs to seek to provide as many as 2,000 housing units, whether rental or ownership, affordable to people earning 80% or less of median income.

The State Housing Inventory suggests we need a total of 765 affordable housing units. Real need is far higher than this figure.

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