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Not Many Indians Can Buy Homes in SF, NYC

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San Francisco and New York City are the least affordable home markets in the top ten cities with big Native populations in the United States. Just 8.3 percent of American Indians and Native Alaskans who live in the San Francisco metropolitan statistical area (MSA) are able to afford the median-priced home there, according to a study of housing affordability that includes race and ethnicity breakouts for the first time. Just 15.2 percent of New York City Indians can afford the median-priced home in the Big Apple MSA.

Where are the most affordable big-city home markets for Indians? Try Oklahoma. The median-priced home in Oklahoma City is affordable to 80 percent of Indians living there, while for Tulsa it is nearly as high, at 70.2 percent, according to a study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Los Angeles, the city with the biggest Native population, is also not very affordable to its Indian citizens. Less than a third, 32.1 percent, of Indians living there can afford the median priced home, which costs $315,000, according to the NAHB study, written by Rose Quint.

According to the 2000 Census, almost 130,000 Indians live in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas or MSA. San Francisco has 45,059 Indians in its MSA, according to the Census, and the median home price there is a hefty $599,000. New York City had 64,633 Indians in 2000, the Census says, and a median home price of $430,000 according to NAHB.

Oklahoma City homes are much cheaper, with the median there being $127,000, while Tulsa is similar, at $137,000.

Nationwide, 58.7 percent of Indians could afford the median priced home in their MSA, and their median family income was $43,200, according to NAHB. That was well below the national average of 72.8 percent, although slightly above the numbers for African Americans and Hispanics.

Median family income for Indians in the Los Angeles MSA is $55,200, according to the study. That’s only about half of white income ($96,200), but more than Hispanics ($45,800). In San Francisco, Native median income is $53,000, while in NYC it is almost exactly the same, $52,800.

Median family incomes for Oklahoma urban Indians are, perhaps surprisingly, about the same as than those in the high-end markets. For Oklahoma City the median is $55,700, while in Tulsa it is $48,600. The same amount of income on vastly lower home prices explains why the Oklahoma markets are the best buy for urban Indians in the top 10 MSAs.

Median income means that half of the population earns less than the median and half makes more than it. The same thing applies for median home prices—half are more than the median, half are less. The benchmark used for the study, median family income, is different than median household income and tends to be higher than MHI.

The MSAs used by the Census Bureau for number of Indians and NAHB for affordable may be slightly different. The San Francisco MSA includes Oakland and San Jose, according to the Census Bureau, while NAHB has it as San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City. Each category is consistent within itself, though, and no attempt has been made to combine the two lists together.

ICTMN used the Bureau’s “American Indian and Alaska Native alone” category for population. There is another category, AI/ANs “alone or in combination,” meaning those who claim mixed Native ancestry, where the population totals are higher.

Other top ten MSA Indian markets, according to the Census, include Phoenix, Arizona (68,438); Seattle, Washington (40,427); Albuquerque, New Mexico (39,839); Flagstaff, Arizona (32,882); and Dallas, Texas (30,110). Median priced homes in those urban areas were affordable to 63.9 percent of Phoenix MSA Indians, 34.1 percent for Seattle, 54.1 percent in Albuquerque, 28.7 percent in Flagstaff and environs, and 68.2 percent in Dallas.

Some MSAs were extremely affordable to Indians. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy Three Cities area of New York, for instance, had an 88.5 percent affordability rate for Indians. However, only about 2,000 Indians live in that area, according to the Census.

Binghamton, New York was even higher, at 94.9 percent affordability. Just 555 Indians lived in Binghamton, according to the 2000 Census. Mansfield, Ohio, with 458 Indians, was 95.8 percent affordable.