Thursday, December 22, 2005

Housing Affordability Plummets in US

The Wall Street Journal Reports today on the latest National Association of Realtors' Affordability Index which indicates that, nationwide, housing affordability is at its lowest level since 1991.

While homeownership is at record levels, the article points out that people are likely spending a higher percentage of their income on housing and living further afield from metropolitan employment and cultural centers.

As evidence of this trend, check out the article in today's New York Times documenting the growing numbers of New Yorkers commuting to the city from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.

The editorial cartoon shown above, drawn by Ventura County Star's Steve Greenberg represents accurately how many communities are being squeezed by the rising housing prices to the extent that middle-class professionals cannot live in the towns where they work.

Housing affordability is one of the most pressing domestic policy issues in the US today, but curiously it is also one of the least discussed in the political realm. If the Democrats were smart--wishful thinking, I know--they would develop this as a key wedge issue in next year's midterm elections.