We’ve seen President Obama deliver the State of the Union Address and Governor Deval Patrick deliver the State of the Commonwealth Address, now the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) has prepared a report entitled, State of the People: For the Pioneer Valley. Among numerous other items, PVPC looked at six housing indicators in the region: housing affordability, housing cost burden, home ownership, subsidized housing availability, foreclosures, and homelessness. So this is not a report on the status of the Pioneer Valley real estate market, which has been improving for over a year.
In their report, PVPC found that the Pioneer Valley is outperforming the commonwealth regarding home ownership rates, which PVPC reports has been stable for twenty years, “with just under two thirds of all housing units being owner-occupied in 2010.” The report stated that Amherst, Greenfield, Holyoke, Springfield, and Sunderland had the lowest home ownership rates at less that 50%, however. The reason offered by PVPC for the low home ownership rate in Amherst and Sunderland was due to the large student population from the UMass and other area colleges. Poverty and lower incomes was attributed as the reason for low home ownership rates in Springfield and Holyoke. The Pioneer Valley communities with the highest home ownership rates are Montgomery, Leyden, Middlefield, Westhampton, and Blandford, according to the PVPC report.
The Pioneer Valley is also performing better than the state as a whole with regard to the availability of affordable housing. PVPC also reported that the percentage of towns with at least 10% of the housing units subsidized has remained stable, but still above the rate of the state.
The percentage of people who are burdened by housing costs has slightly lower that it was 10 years ago. The rate of those burdened by their housing costs was also lower in the Pioneer Valley than that of the commonwealth, according to the report.
There is still room for improvement, however. As would be expected given the economic collapse, foreclosures in the Pioneer Valley have followed state and national trends. What’s more, the rate of homelessness has increased in the Pioneer Valley and is higher than that of the state.
The purpose of the report is to inform regional decision makers, inspire citizens to shape the future of the region, and to foster the initiation of a dialogue. I thought that it is a good resource for Pioneer Valley home buyers and home sellers, as well.
The report covers a number of different indicators regarding the quality of life in the Pioneer Valley beyond housing and the overall “State of the Pioneer Valley’s People” is good:
From the reports executive summary:
“Particularly positive are trends in the area of the Environment, as well as many components related to civics, arts, and recreation in the region. Furthermore, several education indicators are rapidly improving as are some indicators related to our physical health and safety. Otherwise many trends are neutral, not getting significantly worse, but not increasing [in] the ways we would like to see. Of particular concern is the area of economic security, as well as a number of the health indicators which it seems compounding factors might have more influence over, including mental health, diabetes, HIV/AIDS cases, and obesity.”
If you are planning on buying or selling a home in the Pioneer Valley, make your first call to Michael Seward at 413-531-7129 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.