We are experiencing a housing crisis.
As inflation rages on for a post-COVID shutdown in America, Baltimore County, like others in the country, is struggling heavily with the rising cost of shelter, creating a scary and pervasive housing crisis.
Hair-raising costs and a housing crisis
Shelter is one of mankind’s necessities.
Along with food and water, a roof over one’s head is vital to basic survival. That’s why the recent American rental crisis is so daunting.
According to Harvard University’s Annual State of the Nation’s Housing Report, 30% of all American households have a rental price deemed unaffordable. In short, unaffordability is determined by one’s rent or mortgage eclipsing 30% of their monthly salary. With home costs climbing an astronomical 20.6% from 2021 and the rental rate jumping up 12%, it’s safe to say the issue is only getting worse with time.
This isn’t even accounting for the economic impact of COVID-19 on the American public. Not since the disastrous recession of 2008 has the job market been so shaken up. Although the viral disease initially devastated low-wage jobs, the following domino effect shortly wreaked havoc on the country. By the end of 2021, 20 million households reported not having enough food for sufficient nutrition in the past week according to The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. In the same report, 10 million households claimed to be behind on rent. Of course, some effort has been made to restore the economy in the form of stimulus checks and relief programs. However, as the country marches through 2022, there are still approximately 3 million fewer employed Americans than pre-pandemic. To say this nation has a long road ahead to recovery is a vast understatement.
POC and housing crisis
The financial impacts of COVID-19 have had the most profound effect by far on Black and Latino people.
Essentially, issues stemming from systemic racism were only worsened by the pandemic. One of those issues is housing affordability.
Before COVID-19 was ever heard of, people of color have been dealing with receiving lower wage on average than their white counterparts and a higher rate of housing application denials due to housing market inequities. It’s a trend that’s been incredibly consistent over the span of two decades.
JCHS tabulations of US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates
In 2019, the average Black renter household income was roughly $$32,000. Compare this to a $42,000 figure for Hispanic renters and $45,000 for white renters.
The disparity is stunning, and it can be found in all walks of life whether it’s a city or a small suburb. Suburbs like the ones found in Baltimore County.
Spotlight on Baltimore Countians
Baltimore County is known for its sizable Black and Latino population, as well as its diversity overall. Just like the rest of the country, Baltimore County is suffering from an uptick in housing prices.
In 2019, the US average gross rent was $1,097. The state of Maryland topped that with a median rent of $1,401, and Baltimore County nearly matched it with an average of $1,326 according to the Census ACS Survey. The data for 2021 and 2022 is still being collected, but even that figure shows a large disparity between rising rental costs and a suffering middle class, of which the county is majority composed. Currently, $1,327 is the highest median rent has ever been for the Baltimore County area since data collection began in 2005.
Furthermore, this is now snowballing into a big homelessness problem. For anyone who resides in Baltimore County, the rise of homeless men and women strolling the streets can’t be ignored.
Moreover, It becomes truly undeniable the area is being severely impacted when examining rental vacancy in Baltimore County versus nationwide. The county reported a staggering 8.10% rental vacancy rate for 2019. Juxtaposed against the 6.29% statewide rate, it’s clear that county residents are under a unique type of pressure.
We have to live
It’s a crisis without an easy answer.
For Owings Mills mother and social worker Nora Collins, her frustration firstly lies with the federal government. “It’s the government basically trying to recoup all the money they gave out, so they’re making citizens responsible for repaying money that was given during the pandemic.” She said. Collins is a homeowner and mother of three. She’s one of the millions of Americans who notice the massive increase in the cost of living. “As a result, they’ve increased cost of gas cost of food, cost of living, in general, all went up.” For her and the other approximate 800,000 citizens of Baltimore County, this is the current reality, unless something changes soon.
“We don’t have a choice, we have to live.”
Photo credit: Pexels, PNW Production
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