The average cost of a house in Hamilton County, Indiana— home to both Carmel and Fishers— is now upwards of $300,000, almost double the cost of homes 10 years ago. This includes new houses and houses currently on the market. The median price of homes in the United States is $202,700.
While Hamilton County may be a few counties north of Monroe, it is important to be critical of a county whose two major cities— Carmel and Fishers— have been heralded as some of the best places to live in America.
We the Editorial Board believe the increase in housing costs could have a harmful effect on the community, as it will prevent middle class Americans from moving to these cities. It could also have an effect on the local services these cities can provide.
The increase in housing prices can be attributed to multiple sources. Hamilton County is an affluent county. Real estate is rare, which raises the prices across the board.
Another big cause is the regulations the local governments put on new houses in the area.
After the housing crash, local governments put regulations in place to create sustainable subdivisions. Some of these regulations include not using vinyl for new houses, in favor of brick or faux wood. Additionally, all roofs must be steep, and new homes in Hamilton County must include a screened porch or sunroom.
All in all, the National Association of Home Builders stated that these regulations and other government regulations account for 24 percent of the cost of new homes.
Hamilton County is a wealthy area and has two of the top schools in the state. This makes the area more attractive to homebuyers, and the rising housing costs can be partially attributed to that demand.
However, the rising housing costs also prevent many people from the middle class from living in the area.
An extreme version of this problem has been occurring in San Francisco and the Bay Area of California for years.
San Francisco has the most expensive housing market in the country, and this has led to the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment to be more than $3,500. This is due to a lack of land, similar to the situation in Hamilton County.
The high cost of living means many middle class workers cannot afford to live in San Francisco, even though these workers provide essential services, like teaching.
The San Francisco Chronicle found many teachers cannot afford to live in the city in which they work. With the salaries they receive, finding affordable housing involved living in living rooms or getting second jobs.
The lack of affordable housing also means many teachers are leaving the city and the school district altogether. This causes more teachers without credentials to take their places, with an increase of 76 percent in the employment of teachers without credentials between 2010 and 2014.
Higher housing costs can be a sign a community is thriving; however, you shouldn’t need to be making more than a quarter-million dollars to be able to afford a house where you work.
If Hamilton County isn't careful, it could face the same shortages in its schools.
Cities like Carmel and Fishers rely on service workers, teachers, sanitation workers and many other middle class workers. All cities do. Having regulations that make houses unaffordable to the majority of these people doesn’t help the community.
And while Hamilton County is not San Francisco, we the Editorial Board feel local governments should take the time to make sure these housing policies do not close a door on middle class workers looking to move to their towns.
If not, they could likely face crowding and teacher shortages, like San Francisco.