POST Online Media Lite Edition


Hawaiians least satisfied with affordability of local housing

Staff writer |
One in four Hawaii residents are satisfied with "the availability of good, affordable housing" where they live.

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This is half as many as in the next lowest states - California, New York and Vermont, all with 50% satisfaction. Wisconsin (82%), Georgia (80%) and Idaho (80%) residents have the highest levels of housing satisfaction.

These results are based on Gallup's 50-State Poll, conducted March-December 2015. The survey consisted of interviews with at least 500 residents in each of the 50 states. The full results for each state appear at the end of the article.

Hawaii's low ranking is not surprising given that it has the highest median home value in the nation, estimated at $528,000 by the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey.

State-level housing satisfaction is highly correlated with median home values overall, and this relationship is particularly evident in areas where home values are the highest.

California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and New York have the highest median home values in the U.S., after Hawaii. Accordingly, those five states all rank near the bottom in satisfaction, behind Hawaii, with between 50% and 57% satisfied with the availability of affordable housing in their states.

Despite the overall high correlation between home values and satisfaction with the availability of affordable housing, there is some distinction between the states at the bottom of the value list and the top of the satisfaction list.

West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky have the lowest median home values, but none ranks among the 10 states in which residents are most satisfied.

However, all but two of the 10 states having the greatest satisfaction with housing affordability rank in the bottom half of states on median home values. Utah and Nevada are the exceptions. Utah has the 16th highest median home value, but 78% are satisfied with the availability of affordable housing there.

One reason this incongruity might exist is that Utah has a relatively low cost of living, so higher housing prices there are offset by lower prices on other things Utahans need to buy.

Thirteen states rank significantly below the 50-state average of 68% resident satisfaction with the availability of affordable housing where they live. All of these states except Maryland are in the Eastern or Western regions of the country.

While no states in the East have above-average satisfaction with affordable housing, a few Western states do, including Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

Hawaii is traditionally the state that more Americans say they would like to visit for vacation than any other, and Hawaii consistently ranks near the top of U.S. states in well-being.

But Hawaiians clearly see their state as lacking when it comes to the availability of affordable housing. Even in California and New York - two of the most expensive states to live in - twice as many residents are satisfied with the availability of affordable housing as is the case in Hawaii.

Hawaii officials are well aware of the need for affordable housing, but there are many practical economic challenges to expanding the supply of affordable housing on the islands.

Many of the homes built in Hawaii are sold as second homes or investment properties. The costs of building and maintaining rental properties there often greatly exceed what owners could recoup if they charged rents that lower- and middle-income residents could afford.

Also, there is a limited amount of land in the state that can be developed. Because of these factors, many Hawaiian families are forced to share houses with other families to be able to pay their rent or mortgage.

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