Online Open House

Welcome to the Alleghenies Ahead on Housing Open House

STEP 1 - Review Key Findings

To date, this project has identified a series of long-running issues that have had a significant influence on the region's housing markets. While much of this analysis relies on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic, it reveals trends that are likely to persist. Analysis of data from 2020 through 2022, including home sales and current rent levels, is now underway.

The following is a short overview of key findings thus far:

Growth in housing costs has exceeded income growth in most of the region since 2000

Income growth in all six counties exceeded the rate of inflation between 2000 and 2020. But in Bedford, Blair, Fulton, and Huntingdon counties, the median value of owner-occupied homes and median rents grew much faster than incomes.

Source: czb analysis of U.S. Census Bureau datasets (Decennial Census and 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates)

Inflation-adjusted growth in income and housing costs, 2000-2020

Despite growth in housing costs, housing remains broadly affordable

While costs have risen faster than incomes in most of the region, housing remains affordable to households earning the median income in each county. The typical household makes enough (and often more than enough) to buy the typical house or to rent the typical apartment.

Source: czb analysis of 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates

Comparison of what median households can afford to pay for housing

and actual housing costs, 2020



Home values and rents remain well below national levels in the region and are a constraint on housing investment

In all six counties, median household incomes are well below national levels and have been for decades. Median home values and rents are even lower and reflect decades of relatively soft demand, which acts as a barrier to investment in new housing products (new homes and apartments). But it also leads to lower levels of maintenance and reinvestment in existing housing, making the region’s housing supply less appealing over time.

Regional incomes and housing costs as a percentage of national levels, 2020

Source: czb analysis of 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates

Vacancy—especially chronic vacancy—has been on the rise across the region

The number of vacant housing units in the region has been rising over the decades and is up over 40% since 2000. Historically, the largest class of vacant units in the region has been those used seasonally for recreational purposes. That changed by 2020, though, when chronically vacant housing units (those that are not for sale, for rent, or for seasonal use) became the dominant category of vacant units. This rise in chronically vacant units is highly related to observed increases in blighted and abandoned housing in parts of the region.

Vacancy in the Southern Alleghenies, 1980-2020

Source: czb analysis of Decennial Census datasets and 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates

Housing needs in the region are concentrated among households earning less than $35,000

Households are considered “burdened” by their housing costs if they pay more than 30% of their gross income each month on rent or a mortgage payment. In the Southern Alleghenies, cost burdens are most common for households who earn less than $35,000. 61% of renters in that income range are cost-burdened, as are 43% of homeowners. Levels of cost burden diminish rapidly above the $35,000 income threshold.

Assistance for cost-burdened households in the region is dwarfed by levels of need

Throughout the region, 7,500 households (almost all of whom earn less than $35,000) live in subsidized housing units that ease their cost burdens. These include households who use vouchers to help pay for privately-owned housing, those that rent from public housing authorities, and those that live in other income-restricted housing developments.

This level of assistance is dwarfed by levels of need. Over 26,000 renting households in the region earn less than $35,000, and over 16,000 of these households do not receive sufficient assistance and are considered cost-burdened.

STEP 2 - Ready to answer a series of questions?