Durham News

Income, supply, among Durham’s housing challenges

There are about 38 affordable housing units in Durham for every 100 households with incomes 30 percent below the area median income.

There are about 79 units for every 100 families living 50 percent below the medium income. And there are about 142 units for every 100 families with incomes 80 percent below the medium income.

Those are a few of the numbers consultant Enterprise Community Partners presented to the City Council recently.

The city has a decent supply of affordable housing, but not enough for families making less than 50 percent of the area median income ($67,400), said Karen Lado, a vice president of the company.

Those and other numbers also tell a story, Lado said, about a city that is moving from the challenge of disinvestment to the consequences of rapid growth.

While rent and home values have increased, she said, Durham remains overall a “relatively affordable market,” but prices vary tremendously in individual neighborhoods.

And some simply don’t make enough money, she said.

“The fact that we have so many cost-burdened renters is not necessarily a function of the fact that the housing market is really expensive in the areas that they are living,” Lado said. “It is function of the fact that their incomes are very low.”

The background

Earlier this year, the City Council unanimously approved a $101,000 consultant contract with Enterprise Community Partners to review housing needs in Durham and help the city define goals and strategies to address them.

A final report that will help the city set five-year goals with supporting strategies for the city leaders to consider is expected in September.

Another report on a downtown rental-assistance program is due at the end of the year.

How many low-income families live in Durham?

In 2013, there were 41,728 total low-income households in Durham, according to Lado’s presentation.

About 29 percent of those households are considered extremely-low income, with incomes 30 percent or less than the area median income.

About 30 percent of those households are considered very-low income with incomes 31 percent to 51 percent of the area median income. And about 40 percent of those households are categorized as moderately-low income with incomes 51 percent to 80 percent of the area median income.

The highest concentration of very-low income and extremely-low income household are in central and eastern Durham, while moderate income households are more broadly distributed.

How many cost-burdened renter households are there in Durham?

In 2012 about 19,500 low-income renters were paying more than 30 percent of their total income for rent and utilities.

Nearly 11,000 of these households were spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent and utilities.

How many cost-burdened owner households are in Durham?

In 2012 there were about 7,800 total low-income owners, which is 15 percent of all owner households. More than 4,000 of them were spending more than half of their income on rent and utilities.

What are the demographics of low-income households?

There are about as many as white (18,760) and black (18,214) low-income households. About 29 percent of white low-income households are paying more than 50 percent of their income on rent and utilities compared to 38 percent of black households.

There are about 6,717 Hispanic low-income households, and about 21 percent were spending more than half of their income on rent and utilities.

What type of housing do low-income renters live in?

About 27 percent of renters live in single-family homes and 24 percent lived in buildings with three to nine units.

More than half of Durham’s rental supply, much of it on the affordable end of the spectrum, is in single-family homes, duplexes and small buildings.

“This is a very important point as we think about strategies going forward because this is the hardest type of housing to preserve as affordable,” Lado said.

From 2000 to 2011, the median rents increased by 22 percent.

“Rents are increasing, but Durham is still a pretty affordable rental market overall,” Lado said.

At the same time, you can also see some widely different trends in different areas across the city. The lowest median rent, $465 per month, is in central western Durham. The highest median rent, $1,936 per month, is found in southwestern Durham.

What about subsidized housing?

There are about 6,100 income-restricted subsidized homes in Durham.

About 47 percent are owned by for-profit entities. Those units may be more vulnerable for conversation into market rate housing depending on the surrounding market. The Durham Housing Authority owns 31 percent of them and nonprofit organizations own 22 percent.

About 1,240 units have the potential to exit affordability restrictions over the next five years tied to federal or state grant money, tax credits and other programs.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

About the formula

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development establishes the formula that defines area median income limits in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, which includes Chatham, Orange and Durham counties. The area’s median income is $67,400.

Income limits for families earning 30 percent of the AMI: (Number in family) income (1) $14,150, (2) $16,200, (3) $20,090; 50 percent of the AMI: (1)$23.600, (2) $27,000,(3) $30,350; 80 percent of the AMI: (Number in family) income limit: (1) $37.750, (2) $43,150 (3) $48,550