Job growth in Hampton Roads expected to fuel demand for affordable housing

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The Hampton Roads region is projected to add more than 160,000 jobs during the next 20 years,  a 22 percent increase compared to growth in 2013.  That will create a demand for 114,000 new housing units. When demand from replacement jobs is factored in, the region will need to add more than 200,000 new homes by 2033, according to preliminary findings from a workforce housing needs assessment.

The assessment found that nearly three quarters of the jobs will be in sectors with a median wage of less than $50,000. With incomes in that range, housing affordability will be a growing challenge, a national housing official said Thursday.

“The shift to faster growth in jobs with more moderate wages is a pattern that is taking place in many regions across the country,” Lisa Sturtevant, director of the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy,  said during a joint press conference with Housing Virginia in Norfolk held in conjunction with the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference. “The structural shift means that in the future there will be greater demand for smaller and more affordable housing in the Hampton Roads region and other metro areas
across the country.”

Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim weighed in on the study’s initial results.  “As our region adds new jobs, we need to be sure that our housing capacity, especially the affordable component, keeps pace so that employers will continue to have ready access to a local workforce,” he said in a statement.

During the past 20 years, the Hampton Roads region has constructed an average of 7,000 homes per year. That means that over the next two decades the region would need to see an average increase of about 10,700 homes per year to keep pace with employment growth.

The full study is scheduled for release in March 2014. The final report will show housing demand by tenure (owner/renter), price and rent range and jurisdiction. In addition to evaluating overall housing needs, the report also will assess housing needs associated with military employment in the region as well as special challenges faced by very low wage workers.

The Hampton Roads study complements similar studies Sturtevant has conducted in the Washington, D.C., and Richmond metro areas. Housing Virginia is sponsoring the study in partnership with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

Housing Virginia is a nonprofit organization of statewide leaders committed to providing tools, research, and services designed to help make affordable housing
accessible to Virginia residents.

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