For every additional dollar a middle-class Chicago family makes, they're now facing an extra $2 in housing and transit costs

For every additional dollar a middle-class Chicago family makes, they're now facing an extra $2 in housing and transit costs

Everyone needs a place to live. And a job so they can pay for that place to live, and a way to get from where they live to where they work.

But what if the cost of where you live and how you get to work is outpacing how much you earn on the job?

That's the situation people around the nation are facing, and particularly here in Chicago, according to new data released in a joint report from the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. In fact, for every $1 the average family's income rose in Chicago in the last decade, their housing and transportation costs rose $2.

A middle-class Chicago family ends up paying nearly 60 percent of their income just toward housing and transportation costs, according to the data. That leaves only 40 percent left for everything else - including food, health care, education and savings.

Their report, Losing Ground, calculated housing and transportation costs for metro areas around the nation and compared those with average income.

They looked at middle-income families in Chicago, or families making 50 to 100 percent of the area median income, or about $31,539 to $63,078 a year. Per month, the average family is taking in about $3,726. They're paying out about $1,204 in housing costs and another $959 in transportation costs, leaving just $1,563 left for everything else they need for the month.

Chicago's transportation costs are actually quite low when compared with the 25 biggest cities in the U.S. The study found it to be the fifth most affordable. But housing costs are on the unaffordable end -- the eighth least affordable. When those costs are combined, Chicago sits squarely in the middle of other large cities -- number 13 in the rank of most affordable to least.

And what about poor families? The report notes that lower-income families are facing similar costs without higher incomes to pay for it. The groups are working on further research about how housing and transportation costs burden poor families.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/House Prices

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