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Nearly Half of Iowa Renters Overburdened by Housing Costs

PHOTO: A new analysis finds there are still a lot of folks across the state and nation on the edge financially, and part of the reason is the high cost of housing. Photo credit: Jo Naylor
PHOTO: A new analysis finds there are still a lot of folks across the state and nation on the edge financially, and part of the reason is the high cost of housing. Photo credit: Jo Naylor
February 24, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - Affordable housing can be key to helping working families gain and keep financial stability, but for many across Iowa the costs of rent and utilities are taking more than their share of the monthly budget.

The Center for Enterprise Development analyzed the latest data, and senior research manager Kasey Wiedrich said they found that nearly half of renters in the state are what's called "housing cost-burdened."

"In Iowa it's almost 45 percent of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on their housing costs," she said.

For homeowners in the state, the rate is significantly lower, with about 22 percent considered housing cost-burdened.

Wiedrich said the high cost of housing doesn't allow for families on the edge to save for emergencies, a factor that is a major contributor to the "liquid-asset poverty rate." In Iowa, that rate is 26 percent.

"With liquid asset poverty," she said, "we're looking at the rate of households that don't have enough liquid savings - cash in the bank, savings accounts, even retirement accounts that people could fairly easily tap into - so that they could make it for three months at the poverty level if their income went away."

The group's latest "Assets and Opportunities Scorecard" also shows how Iowa is faring in areas such as jobs, health care and education. The scorecard is online at assetsandopportunity.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA