I Don't Want to be Part of the 85%

View of Affordable Housing from a Soon-to-Be College Graduate

I Don't Want to be Part of the 85%

Food, shelter, clothing – the basics of life and that which have pretty much been provided to me by my parents for 20 years.  With college graduation at my doorstep (figuratively speaking, I don’t have a house, thus part of my focus of this column), I turn my attention to searching high and low for a job and thinking about getting on in the world as a young, responsible adult. That quest includes housing. Should I be concerned? Darn tootin’ I should be!

CNN Money’s study (May of 2010) showed that nearly 85% of college graduates planned to move back under their parent’s roof after graduation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and they are really cool people but the last place I want to call home is the 10’ x 12’ bedroom in my parent’s house.  How can I avoid this path of moving home with mom and dad?  Drumroll please, by continuing the fight for affordable housing!

Until my internship with the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, affordable housing was a topic I associated with the homeless or people working in hourly service and low-paying jobs.  But now my vested interest has me rethinking and including the “unclassified” people – like me.

There is a real and growing need for affordable rental housing where young adults can live while they get established, save money, begin paying back education loans.  With proper budgeting and saving, a college graduate like me should be able to transition into homeownership and some to higher rent apartments in a reasonable time, say two years.  An ancillary benefit is it frees up affordable housing for others who are coming into the market.  Just like personal health, I’m a believer in investing more in the preventative services,  rather than heroic and expensive efforts when things get really bad and people are struggling to avoid homelessness, living in someone else’s basement or a situation that is unsafe.

In order to calculate an income that I can expect after graduation, I took seven liberal arts schools statistics and averaged them together to find a realistic salary.  I found that I could expect a salary of about $38,500.  From there I was able to begin the number crunching.  In high school I was taught how to budget and part of that budgeting was 20% for housing.  After reading some other sources I found that one could budget as much as 30% of their income towards housing but they will also have utilities on top of that 30%.  I prefer the 20% plus utilities, and based on that, a new college graduate can afford to spend $7,700 a year on housing.  That’s approximately $640 a month. The Fair Market Rent of a two-bedroom apartment in Des Moines is currently $737 a month. Right out of the chutes I will come up short.

I don’t want to live beyond my means. I do want to be responsible and focused. My time working at PCHTF tells me it is possible and together we can plan for and provide options for safe, stable, and affordable housing… that doesn’t include a friend’s couch or a parent’s basement.

Taylor Christensen

Grand View University Business Administration Senior

Contact me at: taylorman2018@gmail.com