Latest data from the US Census Bureau is suggesting that some states are rapidly losing their military vets. For instance, California lost 48% of its per capita veteran community between 2000 and 2016. Further analysis of the data reveals that people who have served in the armed forces are more likely to flee a state where house prices are high. If states want to maintain their veteran communities, they need to work to reduce the rate at which houses gain value or at least offer help to returning servicemen looking to buy a home.
California and the North East
Data shows that the top six states with the lowest per capita veteran populations are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and California. These also happen to be the states with the highest house prices. On the other hand, you could purchase a luxury home in neighboring Arizona, for the price of something comparatively small in California.
Real estate prices in New York have increased 8.8% in the last year, with a median price of $308,000. This is well outside of what is affordable for most people on a military pension. In order to avoid homelessness and achieve a reasonable quality of life, many vets have no option but to leave their home states in search of cheaper housing.
Military Veterans are Disproportionately Affected
Despite their service to the country, increasing house prices tend to disproportionately affect veterans. If they have been unable to afford a home before leaving to serve in the armed forces, they will return to a housing market that has increased beyond what is affordable. This is because house prices are increasing much faster than the salary given to members of the armed forces.
This is why military veterans make up around 12% of the homeless population. Fortunately, the number of homeless vets has decreased 40% since 2011, but much of this is to do with increased mobility, allowing veterans to move to a new state to find cheaper housing. There should be more done to give vets the option to live where they grew up and formed relationships.
How Can State Governments Help?
If the local government cares about its returning servicemen, then there should be initiatives in place to encourage them to stay at home. This can be in the form of military discounts on housing or free financial advice to help them secure a mortgage. Anything that will make life easier for those who have served this country is a step in the right direction, but the states with the highest house prices have much work to do in this area.
In order to avoid homelessness, too many veterans have been forced to move states in search of cheap housing. This house price inequality between states has a disproportionate effect on military veterans. State governments need to do more to address these issues and help former servicemen to get on the property ladder.