News

High Cost of Housing in US, Unable to Buy or Rent

Millions of Americans have been unable to pay the mortgage on their houses and have had to leave them. Many are now renting, but are finding it difficult financially
Millions of Americans have been unable to pay the mortgage on their houses and have had to leave them. Many are now renting, but are finding it difficult financially

Multimedia

Odil Ruzaliev

Owning your home was once part of the American dream.  But that dream has faded because of the economic recession in the United States.  Millions of Americans have been unable to pay the mortgage on their houses and have had to leave them.  Without a home of their own, many people are now renting, but this also can be difficult financially.

Until recently, Brenda Ganaway lived in a home of her own in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb close to Washington, D.C.  But then the economic crisis hit and she was unable to keep paying the mortgage on her house.  "We were behind on a few payments and we couldn't get a loan anywhere, so they just immediately foreclosed it and told us we had a certain amount of days to leave," she explained.

There are millions of people like Brenda Ganaway in America now.  Raphael Bostic is the assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.  He says the number of Americans who own their homes is steadily dropping.  "The homeownership rate in the United States used to be somewhere close to 70 percent. We've fallen off by several million households now," he said. "And so the rate is down considerably. And a lot of those have now gone into the rental market."

Renting does have some advantages over home ownership.  If a renter wants to move, for example, he does not have to worry about finding a buyer for the house. 

Yazgul Odekova manages a rental property in Alexandria.  She says the major reason people rent is that it is usually less expensive than owning a home. "People rent for different reasons. Number one is affordability," she said. "It is cheaper to rent and it is risk-free."

Renting is cheaper for many reasons, says Arun Shu.  He is an international businessman who rents a home near Washington.  He says there are many costs to owning a house besides paying the monthly mortgage. "If you decide to buy a house, a lot of expenses are involved. Not only payment if you take a mortgage, but also you have to pay property tax, maintenance and upkeep of the house," he said. "You probably will want to spend some money on renovating the house, remodeling parts of the house if you buy [a] used house."

But even renting can be difficult in today's market, especially in big cities.  Danilo Pelletiere is an official at the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  He says there just are not enough homes to rent and poor people are the most affected.  "In the United States there has been a focus both at the local level and a national level on home ownership.  That affected renters, low-income people and the like and a result you have shortage of three million units of affordable housing for lowest income people," he said.  

Even if a house is available, Mr. Pelletiere says, being able to pay for it is another problem.  To afford the rent, he says, many poor people work more than one job.  "Today you need multiple minimum wage jobs to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment," he added.  "We calculated about $18 an hour."

Even if a person can afford the rent there are other obstacles.  Yazgul Odekova, the property manager in Alexandria, says most people just do not meet the necessary qualifications, such as being able to prove they can afford the rental payments. "Right now from every 10 application we turned down nine. It is not just because people are dishonest. Sometimes people have big medical bills, sometimes people have bankruptcy, because suddenly they became sick and don't have health insurance. Sometimes peoples' income is very low, sometimes it is unstable relationship between people," Odekova said.

HUD's Raphael Bostic says the U.S. government has programs to help low-income families pay the rent.  "We provide direct subsidy where we try to make sure that families are not overly burdened [so we don't wanna go over that 30 percent ratio], but that they can get into some decent high-quality housing," Bostic said.

But most analysts agree that until the U.S. economy improves, buying a home or renting one will be especially hard for low-income people.  

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs