Erie Vital Signs

Housing: Housing Affordability

Recent Performance

This trend is improving.

Erie performs well on housing affordability. In the Erie metro area, 71.2% of households paid less than 30% of their income for housing in 2014. That compares favorably with 68.2% in PA statewide, and only 65.6% in the U.S. overall. Regarding Erie’s Peer Areas, Erie’s rate was higher than that of nine of its peers, and better than the 69.1% average rate for the 13 peers. Erie’s housing affordability has mostly been on the rise since its low point of 67.3% in 2011.

The Basics

This indicator measures the percent of households that spend less than 30% of their income on housing, including utilities. It includes both homeowners and renters. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has long recommended a “30% of income” standard for housing affordability. Of course, a larger number (i.e. a larger percentage of households spending less than 30% of income) is better for this indicator.

Why is this important?

Housing costs are a major category of necessary expense for most households—THE largest expense for many. As HUD says: “Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.” Housing cost is the single most important cause of differences in the overall cost of living from place to place.

The Details

The Census Bureau defines housing costs to include, for homeowners: mortgages, deeds of trust, contracts to purchase, or similar debts on the property (including payments for the first mortgage, second mortgages, home equity loans, and other junior mortgages); real estate taxes; fire, hazard, and flood insurance on the property; utilities (electricity, gas, and water and sewer); and fuels (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). It also includes, where appropriate, the monthly condominium fee for condominiums and mobile home costs. For renters, it includes contract rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, and water and sewer) and fuels (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). The data are calculated for households with positive income and renters with cash rents.

Note: these are NOT data from HUD; they simply use HUD’s guideline and apply it to Census Bureau data.

The Nitty-Gritty Details


This EVS indicator has no subcategories. However, the original data source also provides data on the number of households who pay less than 20% or 20 to 29% of income for housing, as well as breakdowns by income level, and owners versus renters.

Peer Areas

Thin indicator includes data on all 13 of the standard peer areas, along with U.S. and PA data.




American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. One-year estimates. Table B25106: Tenure by Housing Costs as a Percentage of Household Income in the Past 12 Months.

Other Related Data

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