Homeownership is key to safe and stable housing. Habitat for Humanity, among others, has found that the impact of homeownership goes beyond shelter. It has positive effects on financial stability, educational outcomes, health, safety, and community involvement. Homeowners report being healthier and feeling safer. Children of homeowners have improved scholastic achievement and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. Homeowners are more likely to vote and be engaged in civic and community activities. In our county, 30.7% of renters are in poverty – more than twice county’s poverty level – while only 5.1% of homeowners are.
In our county as a whole, Anderson has about 73% owner-occupied housing. Out of our housing stock of 89,123 homes, 9.8% (8,751) are vacant. Another 21,532 are renter-occupied. Renters are distributed unevenly across the county. The city of Anderson, for example, is majority renter-occupied, unlike all the other municipalities of the county. Homeland Park has the highest number of homeowners of our municipalities – 1,457 in all – which reflects a 55.4% ownership rate. Other housing details can be found readily in the Housing topics of the annual American Community Survey – https://data.census.gov/cedsci/ to include owner and renter characteristics, age of housing, value of owner-occupied housing, and the percentage of income spent on housing. Households that spend 30% or more of their income on rent or a mortgage are considered housing-burdened and have a hard time making ends meet each month. More than half of our county’s renters are housing burdened, as well as 14.7% of homeowners, which means they come up short, month after month.
When we look at the median wage associated with the top ten occupations in Anderson county, representing 92% of those employed full-time, we find that 50% cannot afford to own a house at our county’s median mortgage price. Some of those who cannot afford to buy a house are renting, some live with parents or grandparents, and some are “doubling-up” with friends or acquaintances.
The Way Forward
McDonald’s starting salary ($12), Aldi’s ($13.10) and that of public school teachers ($18.78) all leave homeownership out of reach. Workforce training programs such as Tri-County Tech‘s, supported by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, allow workers to gain skills to move into higher-paid occupations. There are ten other programs in our Employment Assistance category on our guide. In the most recent data published by the National Association of Realtors, home prices in our county rose by 18.8% compared to the prior year. Pathways to stable housing in our county are available, though they need strategic support and patience.