Demand for Health Workers Is Rising, But Can They Afford Housing?

Demand for Health Workers Is Rising, But Can They Afford Housing?
Janet Viveiros, Lisa A. Sturtevant
Publication Date:
September 2014
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While the nation already faces a shortage of health care workers, communities increasingly need these workers to support the aging population. A mismatch between wages and housing costs, however, may pose continued challenges for the health care industry, its workers, and the people who need care. An analysis by the Center for Housing Policy found that low- and moderate-income health workers often cannot afford average housing costs in the regions where they work. The report focuses on five specific health occupations: home health aides, medical billing clerks, medical records transcriptionists, case managers, and geriatric nurses. An accompanying database allows users to compare median wages and housing costs for 80 occupations in 210 metro areas.

Major findings:

  • The number of home health aide jobs is expected to grow by 49 percent between 2012 and 2022 -- rising from 875,100 to nearly 1.3 million jobs.
  • Fair market rents for a two-bedroom apartment are only affordable for home health workers in one metro area (Mansfield, Ohio) out of 210 studied.
  • In the Fort Lauderdale metro area, home health aides would need to pay nearly 60% of their income to afford the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • In 15 metro areas, buying a median priced home would require more than a home health aide’s entire paycheck.