Sunday, July 29, 2012

MARKET TRENDS: Returning Veterans Hunker Down In Hostile Housing Market

It's tough out there being a military veteran trying to find a job. It's even tougher trying to afford a home - even if they can land a job.

Casualties among military personnel with boots on the ground in the housing market are often disproportionately higher than those among civilians.
The Center For Housing Policy (CFHP) offers the latest in a flurry of recent studies that reveal how those who bravely serve to protect the nation - as well as the nations of others - face a steep, uphill battle at home, in the housing market.

Even with access to federal job training initiatives and other programs for returning troops, many of the jobs veterans enter after time on the battlefield offer wages too low to make housing affordable.

CFHP latest "Paycheck to Paycheck" study edition, "Can veterans afford housing in your community?" examines data from the first quarter of 2012 and reveals the gap between wages and the costs of housing, both rental and owned, in more than 200 U.S. metro areas, for workers in occupations targeted by job training programs for returning vets.
"Because many veterans have been off the job market for years while serving multiple tours of duty, they often struggle to find employment," said CFHP researcher and report author Laura Williams.

"In many housing markets, the jobs America's servicemen and women may find waiting for them after deployment do not pay enough to afford the costs of buying a home, and in some markets and for some occupations, veterans cannot afford the costs of renting a modest rental home," Williams added.

CFHP examined housing affordability prospects for workers in five jobs targeted by the
Department of Labor training programs for veterans - carpenters, dental assistants, electricians, firefighters and truck drivers.

Only one - electricians - offers wages high enough to afford to pay the mortgage on a home at typical prices nationwide, while dental assistants cannot afford the typical nationwide rent on a two-bedroom apartment.

Not just jobs
Military personnel received special attention from the National Mortgage Settlement, when it set aside targeted financial provisions for those who werevictims of foreclosure abuses or who were wronged in the mortgage process.
Unfortunately, foreclosure casualties are higher among GI households than those of civilians and GIs who are struggling to hold on to their homes, find themselves with mortgages that are deeper underwater than those held by civilians, often because they were targeted with abusive lending tactics.

Now, as they return from war, they must fight to find housing they can afford.

Jobs aren't enough
Among CFHP's key findings:
• Even though an electrician's salary is enough, on average, to afford mortgage payments nationwide, the salary won't cover the mortgage payment on a median-priced home or even the rent on a typical one-bedroom apartment in the most expensive housing markets.
• In more than 70 percent of the metro areas studied, the income needed to buy a median-priced home dropped by three percent or more over the last year, however, in 20 percent of the communities examined, the income needed to purchase a median-priced house held relatively steady, and 21 metro areas, or 10 percent of the areas studied, saw increases of three percent or more.
• Some markets run counter to the overall trend of homeownership becoming more affordable. In 21 of the metro areas studied, the income needed to afford a median-priced home increased by three percent or more between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.
In eight of those metro areas - Syracuse, N.Y.; Salisbury, MD; Lima, OH; Ocean City, NJ; Cape Coral, FL; Washington, D.C.; Miami, FL; and Akron, OH - the income needed to afford a median-priced home rose by ten percent or more over that period, even as increases in qualifying incomes in those areas far outpaced typical wage growth.

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