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Nearly Half Of Chicago Residents Can't Afford Their Housing

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 16, 2016 4:29PM

Getty Images; Photo: Joe Raedle
Almost half of Chicago adults (48 percent) are spending more than they can afford on housing-much more than the 31 percent national average, according to a study released Wednesday by the MacArthur Foundation. Adults in the Chicago suburbs fared better than in the city, at 40 percent, but were again above the U.S. median.

The study also finds that city residents consider housing affordability a serious problem at rates higher than national responders: 73 percent among Chicago residents compared to 60 percent nationally. (Oddly, just 58 percent of suburban Chicago residents considered it a serious problem, which is a bit lower than the national average.)

The study also found disparities in how groups view the housing crisis along local, racial lines. African-Americans are particularly skeptical about a housing rebound. Among African-Americans in the Chicagoland area, a mere 12 percent believe the crisis is over; and more than double that number (26 percent) believe the worst is yet to hit. Comparatively, 21 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of whites consider the crisis is over; and 19 percent of Hispanics and 14 percent of whites say the worst is yet to come.

MacArthur Foundation

"Housing is more than shelter; research shows that stable, affordable housing is a lifeline to educational success, health and well-being and economic security," MacArthur President Julia Stasch said in a press release. "There is a solid foundation of helpful policies, but more needs to be done to preserve and increase the supply of affordable housing and to address the loss of income that contributes to increased demand."

Chicagoans agree that more needs to be done, too, according to the study. Seventy percent of city residents responded that either "a great deal or a fair amount" can be achieved; and the same percentage claimed that elected leaders, at the federal level, need to address housing affordability.

The study defined affordability along the same parameters as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires a household to spend no more than 30 percent of income on rent and utilities in order to be considered affordable. Finding were based on interviews by conducted by Hart Research Associates with 1,200 adults throughout the country plus 303 adults in Chicago and 300 adults in the Chicago suburbs.

The news arrives less than a month after another study concluded that Chicago households need to earn $76,000 annually in order to afford rent.