Politics & MoneyReal Estate

This is how childcare and student loans influence housing affordability

Over a third of renters and homeowners said they cut down on essential items like food

More than a third of Americans have been forced to reduce spending on essential items like food and utilities to be able to afford housing, according to a Freddie Mac study.

About 42% of renters and 33% of homeowners cut spending on essential items to cover housing costs during the prior two years, the report said. Overall, 62% of renters and 47% of owners reported having trouble affording housing.

In addition to high housing costs, the two biggest budget-busters were student debt and child care, according to the report.

“We know that rising home prices coupled with historically low levels of available housing inventory are making it harder to buy, and rents outpacing wages are making it harder to save,” the report said. “But, these findings highlight that the `costs of life,’ in particular the increase in student debt and child care costs over the past decade, are playing a major role in housing decisions.”

Student debt has more than doubled over the past decade to over $1.6 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. Of the Millennials who rent, 51% said they based their choice of housing on their student loan payments. For homeowners, the share was 38%.

The cost of child care has risen "substantially" over the past 30 years, according to the report. About 31% of renters and 45% of homeowners reported choosing cheaper housing to afford daycare, according to the report.

Among renters who reported having trouble affording housing in the last two years:

55% reduced spending on non-essential items.

42% spent less on food, utilities and other essentials.

44% reported having to move to find a more affordable place to live.

Among homeowners who reported having trouble affording housing in the last two years:

52% reduced spending on non-essential items.

33% spent less on food, utilities and other essentials.

35% reported having to move to find a more affordable place to live.

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