Spending too much on housing

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SCOTT JAGOW: Did you just write a big fat check for the mortgage? I feel your pain. Today, the Census Bureau came out with the latest stats on housing costs and in almost every state, people are spending a bigger chunk of their incomes on the roof over their heads. Hillary Wicai reports.


HILLARY WICAI: Housing advocates warn many homeowners are going to have a harder time hanging on to their homes.

The government says housing shouldn't ideally be more than 30% of household income, but today's data from the Census Bureau show 34.5% of homeowners with a mortgage had housing costs that topped that mark in 2005. That's up from about 27% in 1999.

Jeffrey Lubell is with the Center for Housing Policy, a nonprofit that works on the nation's housing challenges. He says incomes aren't keeping up with housing costs.

JEFFREY LUBELL:"What we're seeing with housing prices going up is that property taxes are going up, property insurance rates are going up, families are increasingly taking out exotic mortgages that are putting their homeownership status at risk."

While the housing market has softened in many areas, home prices are still higher than they were at the start of the decade. Median home values jumped 32 percent from 2000 to 2005 to $167,500.

In Washington, I'm Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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