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Data: Housing affordability is concentrated in select Virginia cities

An apartment complex under construction in Virginia Beach.
Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Beach and Chesapeake both had only one neighborhood each where a one-bedroom is $1,200 or less.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

Several months of data shows that affordable neighborhoods are more heavily concentrated in places like Newport News and Norfolk while other cities in Virginia have virtually none.

When comparing local wages to rental prices in Hampton Roads, a one-bedroom apartment would be considered affordable at around $1,200 per month.

But Alex Fella from Norfolk-based research group City Work says that doesn’t exist in many Hampton Roads cities.

For example, data from June shows Virginia Beach and Chesapeake have only one neighborhood each where rent for a 1-bedroom apartment averages less than $1,200 per month.

“Affordability is disappearing in certain parts and that matters most because if you are being forced to move or you have to find a new place to live, you might end up somewhere that's like an hour away from your job if you're looking for affordability,” Fella said.

Despite rents falling overall in some cities, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the region is still $1,539. WHRO published data last fall that showsHampton Roads is less affordable than places like Northern Virginia or Richmond, meaning a higher portion of peoples’ wages here go toward housing costs.

City Work’s most recent data shows Norfolk has 14 neighborhoods where the average rent for a one-bedroom is less than $1,200, but half of those are at high risk for flooding.

“Affordability already is sort of evaporating in certain parts of the region, and it's being pushed to areas that are most susceptible not only to flooding … but places where Norfolk is not going to invest in economic infrastructure,” Fella said.

Norfolk’s long-term plans acknowledge the possibility that the city could pull back on spending for things like roads and stormwater systems in neighborhoods where flooding will worsen in the coming decades.

That could cause even more of a housing squeeze as climate change makes living in those areas more difficult.