Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Women and seniors most vulnerable to housing costs, city study says

About 85 Virginia Beach students worked on this house for the past 2 years. (Kelly Kultys/Southside Daily)
A Virginia Beach home, shown in November 2015. (Kelly Kultys/Southside Daily)

Single-father households in Virginia Beach earned a median income of $62,522, while single-mother households earned a median income of $34,286 in 2014, according to an update on the city’s Housing Needs and Market Analysis Study.

The $90,000 study, which is being completed by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, includes data on the city’s housing supply, housing needs and market dynamics. Once complete, the city will use the results to inform development over the next two decades. Mel Jones, a research scientist with VCH, presented study data collected thus far to Virginia Beach City Council in a Tuesday briefing, including local sales, real estate and building permit data and data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Female-headed households are particularly vulnerable,” Jones said in the briefing. “Male-headed households typically earn far greater wage incomes than female-headed households, including comparing single father and single mother households.”

The female and male household data Jones referenced was pulled from the Census Bureau’s Public Use Microdata Samples for 2014. Jones relied on this data for her discussion of housing demand, housing stock and housing affordability in Virginia Beach.

Low-income households in the city are experiencing a disconnect between income and housing costs, she said.

“Tens of thousands of low income working households are financially stressed due to a mismatch between their wages and the cost of housing,” the presentation said.

Still, Virginia Beach has no problem attracting millennials, according to Jones.

“The issue is not attracting them, [millennials], but keeping them here,” Jones said in the briefing. “We’re seeing a decrease in 35 to 49 year olds.”

Half of the housing stock in the city was built between 1970 and 1990, according to the presentation, and these homes are becoming expensive to upkeep.

“From 1965-1995 a large supply of single-family homes on large lots was ideal for a large cohort of middle class Boomer buyers,” the presentation said.

Single-family homes do not appeal to millennials in the same way, Jones said.

Here are some of the highlights from the presentation:


Millennials, ages 18-34, account for the largest percentage of the city’s population, totaling 120,928. Besides people younger than 18, the next largest population is baby boomers, or residents aged 50-69. They numbered 104, 367.

Baby boomers head 57,748 households in the city, the largest number in any age group. Residents ages 35-49, known as Generation X, head 46,536 households, the next largest. Millennials head the second least number of households: 40,239, and residents older than 70 head the lowest number of households: 22,496.

Generation X experienced the most significant reduction, decreasing by 13,207 households between 2005 and 2014.  

Housing Stock

More than 50 percent of housing stock in Virginia Beach was  built between 1970 and 1990, the presentation said. According to Jones, these older ranch-style homes are “getting somewhat stale.” Owners of these homes are not updating them, because demand is low and upkeep is expensive, Jones said.


Of the top 10 occupations in Virginia Beach, eight of these positions offer wages that can’t meet the costs of median rent, which is roughly $1,200 a month.

The top 10 occupations include (the eight that don’t meet median rent costs are listed first):

Cashiers employed: 22,410, median annual earnings: $18,300

Food preparation and servers employed, including fast food: 21,570, median annual: $18,420

Retail salespersons employed: 28,580, median annual: $19,700

Waiters and waitresses employed: 13,560, median annual: $21,680

Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping employed: 11,870, median annual: $21,990

Stock clerks and order fillers employed: 11,500, median annual: $23,530

Office clerks general employed: 16,540 median annual: $28,200

Customer service representatives employed: 12,960, median annual: $29,000

Registered nurses employed: 13,700, median annual: $61,350

General and operations managers employed: 9,190, median annual: $105,460

Seniors and women are particularly vulnerable to high living costs, since both groups of households on average earn less than $22 an hour, the average housing market for renters in Virginia Beach.

Summary and next steps

Homeowners who own older city housing (built between 1970 and 1990) will experience or are experiencing expensive upgrade costs.

Jones said the city can address both of these issues simultaneously in new housing policies. VHC will come back with a final draft of policy recommendations in November.

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