The median (see below) household income for the Penobscot/Bangor area is $45,700 per year, or, $21.97 per hour.*
The income needed to afford home ownership in greater Bangor is $42,162 per year, or $20.27 per hour. **
Using the above figures, low-income households with 60% of the area median income earn $27,420 per year, or $13.18 per hour. Thirty percent of the Bangor area median income, defined as a very low-income household *, is $13,710 per year, or $6.59 per hour. This would include households primarily supported by Social Security or disability income.
The Poor Relegated to Rental Housing
Given the above information, it is evident that home ownership is out of reach for low-income families in the Bangor area, who then fall into the rental market. The median income for a rental household in the Greater Bangor area is $25,584 per year, or $12.30 per hour. In order to afford the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment, the wage needed is $15.55 per hour.**
There is good reason for the above data. The median income for renters in the Bangor Labor Market Area rose only 9% between 2000 and 2007. This compares to the median rental price for a two-bedroom apartment in Greater Bangor rising 44% during the same timeframe. ** Over 62% of the renting households in the Bangor Labor Market Area are unable to afford the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment, regardless of the condition of the housing. ** If rental costs are combined with energy costs, Maine renters, at poverty level, have less disposable personal income than renters at poverty levels in any other state in the nation. *** Maine has the 6th oldest rental housing stock in the nation. Older housing stock is more likely to be substandard. Common problems associated with older housing include outdated heating systems, inadequate plumbing, poor electrical systems, inadequate insulation, structural decay, and a lack of appropriate health and safety systems. ** There are over 3,000 households with substandard living conditions in the Greater Bangor area. **
As of the fall of 2008, Bangor is one of five localities with the highest foreclosure rates in the state. * While extensive media attention has focused upon foreclosures for people who own homes, the foreclosure epidemic has in fact “trickled down” to affect the rental market, as well. In 2008, housing counselors across the nation reported that 69% of their foreclosure-related rental clients earn less than 50% of the area median income. +
New England property foreclosure rates are highest in areas of high poverty, and that as many as two-thirds of all foreclosed units in New England may have housed renters. + The threat of eviction rises as rental property foreclosures climb.
At least 51% of all renters with eviction problems in 2008 received one month’s notice or less. +
“Median” is a statistical number that represents the exact middle of a range, in this case, of income or earnings rates. * Source - the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). ** Source – MaineHousing, the state housing authority, report for 2008. *** Source – The Maine Community Development Association. + Source – the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
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