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Housing Scarce for Poor in St. Charles

Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 1:01 p.m. CDT

By Paul Tooher

It’s getting harder for the poor to find a place they can afford to live.

That’s according to a study conducted by the Urban Institute, which found that for every 100 extremely low-income (ELI) renter households in the country, there are only 29 affordable and available rental units.

An ELI household is defined by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as one that earns 30 percent of area median income or less.

And the situation is only slightly better in Kane County, according to the report.

For every 100 ELI renter households in the county, there are only 30 affordable and available rental units. In this area, households of four earning less than $22,750 are classified as ELI.

That means that there are 12,369 households competing for 3,659 affordable and available housing units. And of those 3,659 units, 2,137 are receiving HUD assistance to keep their rents low.

Out of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, the biggest gap in affordability can be found in Cobb County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, with only 2.8 units available for every 100 ELI households. That’s followed by Lee County, Fla., including Ft. Meyers; Denton County, Texas; Clark County, Nev.; Travis County, Texas; Orange County, Calif.; Gwinnett County, Ga.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; Broward County, Fla. and DeKalb County, Ga.

Suffolk County, Mass., including Boston, had the smallest gap, with 50.4 units available for every 100 ELI households. Four other Massachusetts counties also made the top 10 list, including Middlesex, Worcester, Norfolk and Essex. Other areas on the list include Washington, D.C.; Hennepin County, Minn.; Jefferson County, Ala.; Hartford County, Conn.; and Philadelphia County, Pa.

Areas that saw the gap grow at the fastest rate between 2000 and 2012 include Wayne County, Mich., including Detroit; Florida’s Lee County; Shelby County, Tenn., including Memphis; Milwaukee County, Wis.; Fulton County, Ga.; Duval County, Fla.; Georgia’s Cobb County; Cook County, including Chicago, and Mecklenburg County, N.C., including Charlotte.

St. Charles home values have gone up 8.7 percent over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 1.6 percent within the next year. The median home value is currently $226,000 and the median rent price is $1,500, which is the same as the Chicago metro median of $1,500. In St. Charles, mortgage rates are approximately 4.16 percent for a 30-year-fixed loan with 20 percent down.

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