Alaska’s housing stock: Report outlines high costs, overcrowding 

By Devin Kelly | Anchorage Daily News: The state housing authority released a report on Tuesday describing “severe shortcomings” in Alaska’s housing stock, related to high costs, poor energy efficiency, and overcrowding.

The 1,400 page report, commissioned by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and authored by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, provides a detailed assessment of housing at the state, regional and community level. It analyzed information from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey, as well as professional energy audits conducted on about 30 percent of Alaska’s occupied housing.

The data underscore statewide trends: housing costs more than people can comfortably afford, in part because of high energy costs, especially in rural Alaska. This trend is not new in rural Alaska, but it has become a growing problem in urban areas. The report also looked at overcrowding, which is twice the national average overall, and in some places reported to be more than 12 times the national average.

In an interview, Bryan Butcher, the CEO and executive director of Alaska Housing, said the housing assessment is meant to serve as a snapshot of what housing in Alaska looks like today, rather than a complete report.

Some of the report’s key findings include:

• More than 15,000 homes in Alaska are overcrowded or severely overcrowded, and the rate of overcrowding (6 percent) is twice the national average (3.1 percent).

• More than 75,000 households are cost-burdened (spending more than 30 percent of total income on housing costs).That number is likely higher if factoring in energy cost estimates from the housing authority’s database.

• Nearly 20,000 homes have a one-star energy rating, the lowest possible.

• The average housing unit uses more than twice the energy per year than an average housing unit in cold-climate regions in the lower 48.

• Air-tight homes lacking continuous ventilation pose a higher risk of problems related to moisture and indoor air-quality. Those problems affect an estimated 58 percent of occupied housing in Alaska.

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