Dallas Fed: Affordable housing concerns double
Families and individuals living in low- to-moderate income households in the Fed's Eleventh District — which covers Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico — are more confident when it comes to the prospect of new jobs, but access to affordable housing in the region remains uncertain. So what is causing area residents to be so pessimistic about housing? The Fed survey points to factors such as a general lack of quality and affordable housing in decent neighborhoods and a sharp upswing in housing demand associated with an influx of Mexican immigrants and military personnel in certain communities throughout the district. Support or lack thereof from elected officials is cited as another concern. The number of survey participants report a decrease in the availability of affordable housing climbed to 26% from 13%. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released these findings in its Community Outlook Survey, an online survey of 128 service providers working across several industries, who provide feedback on consumers living in the district. Most of the respondents are located in the state of Texas. The survey compiles the results into an index, where an index score of 50-or-greater signifying a positive attitude among service providers on a particular issue, while any economic indicator rated lower than 50 shows respondents' views are mostly negative. On the jobs issue, the index shifted slightly upward from 54 to 56, suggesting more families living in the Eleventh District expect some improvement on the jobs front. However, one-fifth of the survey respondents still reported fewer jobs when comparing the first quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of last year. More respondents also indicate that families in the low-to -moderate income bracket are generally losing faith in their financial well-being, with that index dropping from 43 to 38. The Dallas Fed also noted the survey showed little improvement in access to credit when studying households in this particular economic range. Low-income households continue to rely on credit to meet their obligations, but access to that credit waned in the first quarter, according to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.