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INDICATORS

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Indicators: Oct. 6

October 6, 2010, 1:00 am

48% of Santa Fe renters pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

16 is the score, out of 100, for housing affordability in Santa Fe County, making it the least-affordable county in New Mexico. The score was released on Sept. 29 by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.

" It would be surprising if that wasn’t the case. At one time, Santa Fe was the least-affordable place in the nation."—Joseph Montoya, deputy director of programs at the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority

By now, the narrative of Santa Fe as rustic-settlement-cum-tourist-trap is old, and so are the shouts from those who can afford little more than a place in the settlement. But according to a ranking of legislative districts put out by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, new Santa Fe has earned itself the distinction of being the least-affordable place to live in the state. 


Beyond the repellent that distinction creates for the young non-rich—who quickly check the place off their where-to-start-lives list—it ensnares native Santa Feans in an untenable situation, pushing them either to motels, vehicles or streets.


Lest the country’s new libertarian cheerleaders chime in that some bootstraps just need a-pullin’, consider that it takes nearly two minimum-wage jobs to rent a two-bedroom house—and that’s with the area’s relatively sky-high $9.85-per-hour living wage. (Specifically, one would need to earn $18.60 per hour in Santa Fe, compared to $13.42 for the rest of the state.)


“Rents in Santa Fe County have increased 34 percent since 2000,” coalition Policy and Advocacy Director Lisa Huval says. The rise in rents has shot ahead of the rise in wages, and Huval says that “it seems very likely there has been an increase in the number of people who cannot afford housing.” 


The coalition’s report assessed all of the state’s legislative districts for both renters and homeowners, using five criteria assessed through federal data, including Census figures. While Santa Fe’s House and Senate districts are ranked as the least-livable in the state, none of New Mexico’s legislative districts came close to receiving a score of 100. Eddy and Lea counties, in the southeastern part of the state, came closest, with scores of 61.

 

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