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New figures on housing affordability are out this week and they suggest that the slump in the real estate market hasn’t made housing more affordable for most Americans.

That’s because, as USA Today reports, while prices have dropped substantially for homes that have sold recently, most homeowners are stuck with houses they bought before the slump. In addition, a sizable number of families may be earning less because of layoffs or pay cuts, making the house they’re already in less affordable.

The data suggest that nearly 44 percent of homeowners with mortgages in the Chicago area have to spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing. Only 22 of the nation’s top 100 metro areas had worse affordability figures than that.


New figures on housing affordability are out this week and they suggest that the slump in the real estate market hasn’t made housing more affordable for most Americans.

That’s because, as USA Today reports, while prices have dropped substantially for homes that have sold recently, most homeowners are stuck with houses they bought before the slump. In addition, a sizable number of families may be earning less because of layoffs or pay cuts, making the house they’re already in less affordable.

The data suggest that nearly 44 percent of homeowners with mortgages in the Chicago area have to spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing. Only 22 of the nation’s top 100 metro areas had worse affordability figures than that.

Thirty percent is a figure used for several decades by the government to estimate how much people can afford to spend on their mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities.

Looking at affordability data at a more granualar level, PolicyMap.com shows roughly how many homes in Evanston would be affordable to a family with the average income for the Chicago area.

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The map, which shows data at the census block-group level, demonstrates that affordability varies widely across town, from 100 percent of housing units considered affordable in one corner of the 8th Ward along Howard Street to just 3 percent affordable in the far northwest corner of Evanston around Lovelace Park.

You can find out more details about your own neighborhood by visiting the PolicyMap site.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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