Springfield finds spot in top 10 affordable rental markets ranking

A new study ranks Springfield among the most affordable rental markets in the U.S. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
A new study ranks Springfield among the most affordable rental markets in the U.S. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A new housing study ranks Springfield as one of the most affordable rental markets in the country, however city officials say those findings do not tell the full story.

The recent report by Refiguide.com, which focuses on the home mortgage marketplace, ranked Springfield on its list of top 10 affordable rental markets in the country for 2020.

The study compared median full-time wages in housing markets across the country and compared them to the average median monthly rent using data from Zillow, an online real estate database company. The median full-time annual wage in the Springfield area is $35,300, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Springfield was listed number 10 out of nearly 400 cities across the country that were part of Refi’s renter affordability analysis. By comparing the annual median wage in Springfield to a median monthly rent of $761, it found that residents have on average 74.1% of their salary leftover after rent.

City of Springfield Community Development Director Shannon Meadows said she agrees with the outcome of the report that Springfield is an affordable market for home owners and renters. However, by simply comparing median wages to median rents, the study has a high margin of error, she added.

It does not take into account the number of people who are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing or on the type of affordable housing stock available to them.

A number of Springfield residents are still spending a large portion of their income on housing, something city officials say continues to be a problem as they work to identify ways to provide more affordable housing opportunities.

The city has taken several measures in the past year to address its aging housing stock and shortages in affordable housing. That includes commissioning a 68-page analysis of the city's housing market as well as establishing a vacant property registry that will go into effect Jan. 1.

Roughly 40 percent of city households pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. For some that is due to a shortage in affordable housing that is deemed structurally safe and sanitary, said Meadows.

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“That means families have to pay more for adequate housing,” she said, noting that has more of an impact on those who have low to moderate incomes.

The median household income in Springfield is $37,002. However, an estimated 20% of households in the area have an income below $15,000, according to a study looking at the Springfield housing market conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center.

There is also a shortage in housing opportunities for those classified as extremely low-income renters said Tina Koumoutsos, with the Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield. She said there was a shortage of 2,585 rental units for 3,805 of those renters in 2015.

That study by the Greater Ohio Policy Center also found that 52% of residents in Springfield were renting their homes in 2017.

Koumoutsos said she does not expect that number to go down in the near future as the demand for rental housing has increased in the years following the recession.

Meadows said the city is hopeful that by continuing to engage with specific neighborhoods as well as property owners, it will lead to more reinvestment. That includes salvaging aging housing stock.