(August 25, 2016 – Wilmington, N.C.) The Cape Fear Housing Coalition (CFHC) has been working to strengthen the economic condition of the Cape Fear Region by increasing access and awareness to affordable, safe and healthy housing! Continuing this tradition, the CFHC, in partnership with the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, (UNCW) conducted a Community Housing Affordability Survey this past Spring and are pleased to announce the Results & Final Report.
Goals of the Housing Affordability Survey
• Develop an understanding of community members’ perceptions and attitudes regarding housing affordability
• Identify supported solutions to increase access to affordable housing in New Hanover County
• Increase knowledge among City of Wilmington & New Hanover County leaders regarding the issue of affordable housing.
Results: Some Key Findings in the Final Report
• Almost all respondents (92%) reported that affordable housing was an issue within New Hanover County and a large percentage of study respondents reported that they would support various affordable housing initiatives (i.e., building incentives, cost-effective construction techniques, governmental subsidies, etc.).
• There were mixed opinions regarding the impact affordable housing in the community, such as property values, attractiveness of community, crime, and community character.
• A large percentage of respondents asserted that affordable housing would have a positive impact on the economy, but come with a price of increased traffic.
• Respondents generally endorsed the idea that finding quality affordable housing was challenging for several different groups (e.g., those with incomes less than $24,000, young adults, families with children, and renters).
• Over three-quarters of respondents (80%) asserted that an affordable monthly housing payment would be less than $1,000.
• With regard to concentrated poverty, the overwhelming majority of respondents said this was a problem in both the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County, and they would support efforts to de-concentrate poverty in the area.
• Use these findings as a stepping stone to completing a comprehensive study of housing affordability within New Hanover County. Such an endeavor would involve systematically collecting data from a wide cross section of community residents and would allow generalizations to be made.
• Continue to host regular community conversations (similar to the November 2015 Mayor’s Roundtable event) that focus on housing affordability within the area that would appeal to residents, builders, employers, etc.
• With 92% of the respondents indicating affordable housing is an issue in our community, the time may be right to look at solutions to this issue and move the conversation forward
The survey was available online and marketed throughout the community. In addition, paper surveys were placed in key spots throughout the community to include input from traditionally marginalized populations.
The project was conducted by Dr. Kristen DeVall and Dr. Christina Lanier, Department of Sociology and Criminology, with funding provided by UNCW’s Office of Community Engagement through a Community Engagement grant.
Over 650 surveys were completed. We would recommend that these findings & conclusions be interpreted with caution given limitations to the research design in that the study’s findings are not necessarily representative of the opinions of all New Hanover County residents and thus cannot be generalized to the larger population.
Contacts: Paul E. D’Angelo, Chair
Affordable housing: Housing is considered affordable to the homeowner or tenant if their housing costs, including mortgage or rent, utilities, taxes, and insurance, are 30 percent or less of their gross household income, before taxes. This is for any household, low-income or high-income, small rental apartment to a luxury-owned home … you should not spend more than 30% of your income on housing costs as a general rule to keep your household budget in line and have enough funds left over for life’s other necessities.
Cost burdened: Families or households that pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing are considered cost burdened. Nearly 40 million households, both owners and renters, were cost burdened in 2014, one-third of all American households.
In the Wilmington area, 38.6% of homeowners and 54.2% of renters spend more than 30 percent of income on housing!
Severely Cost burdened: Families or households that pay more than 50 percent of their income on housing are considered severely cost burdened. In 2014, 11.4 million renter households and 6.2 million owner households were severely cost burdened, nearly 15 percent of all U.S. households.
Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University, 2016
Center for Housing Policy, Housing Landscape, 2016