Technical Report Series: Workforce Housing

Did you know that incomes in Knox County rose only 2.3% from 2005 to 2015, while home prices increased 9.8% and rents climbed 15.5%?

And that there is a shortage of affordable housing across several income groups?

The reasons for the lack of affordable options are varied:

  • Detached housing, which makes up the majority of what is available, is more expensive than other options;
  • Knox County’s population continues to grow and has outpaced supply; and
  • Some housing isn’t suitable to live in.

Housing costs are also affected by transportation, though many people don’t consider that when choosing where to live. When workers live farther away from their jobs, they pay more to get to there. In Knox County the average commute is 22 minutes, and 84.9% of workers make that trip alone. Based on those habits, the average Knox County driver spends $8,700 each year to operate just one vehicle.

The result of these factors is that many working households in Knox County are spending more money on housing and transportation than they can afford -- the recommended maximum is 45% of their income. But the average Knox County household spends 59%.

Some families spend more by choice, but for many others, there aren’t enough affordable units on the market, leaving few options. Knox County isn’t alone in this challenge. Hamilton County, home to Chattanooga, averages 58% on housing and transportation spending per household, and Davidson County, home to Nashville, spends 51%. To confront this issue, measures can be taken, like encouraging new residential development closer to established employment centers and along transit corridors.

You can find out more about these issues in the recently published Workforce Housing Report.