Indians Still Lagging on Home Ownership

Mark Fogarty

Just 53 percent of American Indians own their own homes, a full 10 percent lower than the national average, federal government data show, and one of eight lives in a mobile home.

And more than half of Native renters are cost burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income on their rentals.

According to the Census Bureau, which releases a set of bullet points about Native demographics each November in conjunction with American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, an estimated 444,000 of a total of 838,000 housing units were owner occupied by American Indians and Alaska Natives. The other 394,000 housing units (47 percent) were rentals.

The average number of people per owner household was 3.11, while occupancy of rental units was a little lower, at 2.95. More than 8.5 percent of households averaged one person or higher per room, a statistic indicative of overcrowding.

The data is from the Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey, and they measure statistics from the 2.6 million people who identified their race as being solely Native.

About 84 percent of Indians and Alaska Natives are living in the same house they lived in a year ago, the data shows. Nearly two thirds (64 percent) are living in single unit attached or detached houses. Nine percent live in two to four unit structures, while 14 percent live in multifamily housing (five or more units). The percentage living in mobile homes, boats, recreational vehicles or vans was 12.5 percent.

Indians tend to live in older units, with 85 percent of them having been built in the last century, the data shows. Just 2.4 percent lives in units made since 2010, and 12.4 percent in units built between 2009 and 2010. Ten percent of Indians live in structures built before 1939. The largest cohorts lived in units built between 1980 and 1999 (31 percent) while the next largest group, 30 percent, lived in houses built between 1960 and 1979.

There were 224,000 Native houses that had mortgages last year, or about 27 percent of the total. Fully a third of those households spent more than 30 percent of household income on those mortgages. The median owner costs per month was $1,166 for houses with a mortgage, and $317 for houses without mortgages.

The median value of Indian-owned homes was $110,000.

More than half (53 percent) of Native rental households pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent, with an average monthly rental of $776, the data shows.

Five percent of Indian homes do not have a telephone, according to the survey. About 74 percent have computers in the home, but only 59 percent have a broadband subscription. About 14 percent of all Indian homes have no vehicle available.

About one percent of Indian homes do not use fuel, the survey found. The most frequent heating method was gas, at 48 percent, followed by electricity at 36 percent.

The median household income was $37,227 last year. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) had no health insurance, and 24 percent of all families lived in poverty.

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