Veterans struggle to cover housing costs, study finds

By Diana Dietz | July 19, 2012 | 2 min. read

Despite access to federal job training initiatives, many of the jobs veterans enter after service offer wages too low to make housing affordable, according to a new report from the Center for Housing Policy.

Paycheck to Paycheck 2012  analyzed the first-quarter incomes of five occupations that veterans are commonly trained for after they return from deployment, including carpenters, dental assistants, electricians, firefighters and truck drivers.

Data from the first quarter of 2012 show that veterans working in these jobs do not earn enough to afford to buy a median-priced home or to rent a home at a fair-market rent in many areas. The report found that only vets who pursued electrician jobs earned enough to afford a median-priced home.

“Veterans face a wide range of challenges after returning from deployment,” said Jeffrey Lubell, executive director of the Center for Housing Policy. “There are many outstanding service organizations across the country that provides assistance to veterans, but their efforts are often undercut by steep housing costs that make it difficult for veterans to make ends meet.”

For more than 70 percent of the metro areas studied, the income needed to buy a median-priced home dropped by three percent or more over the last year, due to a combination of large numbers of foreclosed homes hitting the market after long delays, low interest rates and other local factors, the report noted.

Some markets run counter to the overall trend of homeownership becoming more affordable. In 21 of the metro areas studied, the income needed to afford a median-priced home increased by three percent or more between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

“If they can’t afford to buy now, what will they do two or three years from now, when home prices recover?,” said Lubell.

Housing assistance for homeless and low-income veterans is available through several federal programs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offer several comprehensive programs to prevent and eliminate veteran homelessness.

Visit the department’s website or contact VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET for more information.

The Center for Housing Policy is the research arm of the National Housing Conference, a nonprofit organization that advocates for safe, affordable housing at the local, state and national levels.

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