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Seattle Residents Burdened by Housing Costs

Photo by Jimmy Chang on Unsplash

Sarah Anne Lloyd |

It’s easy to balk at the cost of an apartment in Seattle. But can residents afford to pay? The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies’s State of the Nation’s Housing report, released each year, gives some sense of who can afford to live in the Seattle area—and who’s struggling.

The main takeaway: As of 2016 rates of cost-burden in the Seattle metropolitan area, which includes Tacoma and Bellevue, remain higher than national rates across all income levels. More than a third of all income levels below $75,000 struggle to pay rent; the highest rates of burden are, unsurprisingly, for households making under $15,000 a year, with 87.7 percent burdened in some way (i.e. paying more than 30 percent of income on rent) and 77.3 percent spending more than half their income on rent. But a high rate of burden extends to households making between $45,000 and $74,999 per year, with nearly 40 percent still struggling.

And ultimately, it’s renter households that are hit the hardest, with fewer pathways to homeownership for those who don’t already own a home. Nearly half of renter households, 45.9 percent, had some kind of cost burden—a slight increase from the previous year.

Of course, this data’s from 2016, before rent started to stabilize a bit, but also before the skyrocketing rent of 2017.

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