The housing trilemma for Pensacola


  • June 24, 2016
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   community-dashboard

Increasing the residential population of Pensacola and Escambia County is crucial to the community’s growth.

It is challenge cities elsewhere face, and analysis by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis shows the challenge that the country’s 100 largest metro areas face is a balance among housing affordability, economic strength and quality of life.

Housing Trillemma chart

Under Housing Affordability, Lehner looked at:

Price Income Ratio. According to the American Community Survey for 2014, the median home value in Escambia County was $123,000. The median household income was $44,883 — about $3,740 a month.

— Cost burdened renters. In Escambia County, 50 percent of households pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward housing, according to the Pensacola Metro Dashboard.

So of that median income, half of the people are paying $1,122 a month or more in rent. What’s left over must cover all of the other bills, food, and other expenses.

— Vacancy rate. The Escambia 18.4 percent of housing units are vacant.

In Economic Strength, Lehner looks at job growth; the ratio of the working age population who are employed, and the number of startup businesses (businesses that are three years old or younger).

In Quality of Life, Lehner looked at household purchasing power and a measure that looks at several things including, violent crime rate per capita, property crimes per capita, air quality index, bars and restaurants, and arts and culture.   

Oklahoma City, Okla.; Omaha, Neb.; and Des Moines, Iowa, top the list in the “sweet spot” where the economy is good, housing is reasonable and the community’s livability — a three-legged stool that leads to a balanced, healthy community.

If that's true, the Pensacola area's three-legged stool needs some work.

Author Josh Lehner writes that cities that are out of balance in the housing-income-lifestyle formula face problems. In his community of Portland, Ore., creeping housing prices could be putting a potential damper on that city’s livability.

Santa Rosa’s population grew 9 percent from 2010 to 2015. Escambia County’s grew about 4 percent in the same five-year period — a red flag for local governments, city planners, school officials, and economic development gurus in our corner of the Sunshine State.