Study: Columbus residents more likely to struggle to afford housing

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comApril 18, 2014 

The Columbus area is among the top 10 communities in America where residents struggle to afford adequate housing, according to newly released Gallup data.

The finding is part of Gallup's Well-Being Index, which has previously found that Alabama is one of the worst states and Columbus is very miserable.

The bad news continues: 14.8 percent of respondents had trouble affording adequate housing, answering yes to the question, "Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to provide adequate shelter or housing for you or your family?" The national average is 10.5 percent.

Some context: the average home value in Georgia was $142,300 in 2012; and the median rent was $837/month, according to Find The Data, itself drawing on the Census' American Community Survey.

Some caveats: the Columbus Metro Statistical Area — which includes Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion and Muscogee Counties in Georgia and Russell County in Alabama — had a combined population of 316,554 as of July 1, 2013, according to the Census Bureau. Though 531,630 adults were surveyed across the country, and although the data is drawn from at least 300 respondents, a more specific breakdown by community (that is, the sample size of respondents from the Columbus MSA) was not available from Gallup.

In its summary of this data, Gallup takes a further step, remarking on the link between those communities whose residents struggle to afford housing and those communities whose residents do not feel safe at night.

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, in Texas, tops both lists, while the Columbus appears on both as well. 45.8 percent of respondents said they did not feel safe walking home alone at night. "Among the 10 communities where residents felt least safe walking alone, all but one community fell below the national average for residents being able to afford housing in the past year."

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated that Gallup polled more than 8,000 people in Alabama and Georgia.

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