PHOENIX — Buying a home in the Phoenix area is seemingly out of reach for many people because of high prices and affordable rentals are in short supply, which is especially difficult for the Latino community who rent at a higher rate than other demographics in the Valley.
"The Latino community has a lower homeownership rate than, for example, white residents in Arizona," Alison Cook-Davis, the associate director for research at ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.
While the percentage of Latinos in Arizona who own homes is around 54%, white homeownership is just over 71%.
That means more Latinos are in the rental market and being forced to live beyond their means as prices rise.
Cook-Davis said the number of rentals for under $800 a month has been cut in half since 2014. Considering new builds are mostly higher-end apartments or single-family homes, affordable units aren't being replaced.
Just under half of Latino renters are cost-burdened, slightly higher than the total average. A person is considered cost-burdened when more than 30% of income is spent on rent.
Cook-Davis said things will probably get worse for people who are cost-burdened.
"The increases in rent and lower vacancy rate are likely to seriously impact [those who are cost-burdened] even more," she speculates.
Cook-Davis said a solution to the problem is complicated.
"The building of affordable housing is particularly challenging in Arizona, where about 80% of the land is zoned for single-family homes," she said. "And it's very difficult to build homes that are affordable at the lower price points."
Cook-Davis said the rezoning necessary to allow for higher density projects would need public support, and that could be hard to come by.
"Having government intervention or incentives is also important to encourage developers… especially at lower price points," she said.
For now, rent in Arizona continues to rise and Latinos make up a large portion of those struggling to find a place in a crowded and increasingly pricier rental market.