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Census shows gains in homeownership

May 18, 2001

Census shows gains in homeownership



By JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown's owner-occupied housing inched up only slightly from 1990 to 2000, but that doesn't discourage Hagerstown's mayor or Hagerstown Housing Advisor Barb Spielman.

"We'll take it," Spielman said Thursday upon hearing the city's percentage of owner-occupied housing increased from 41.2 percent in 1990 to 41.9 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Any increase in homeownership is a good number," said Spielman, who counsels people seeking homes through the city's Home Store.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey III said he was "still optimistic that homeownership will improve."

He noted the Home Store also helps people who buy homes outside city limits.

Washington County's owner-occupied housing rate improved from 63.8 percent in 1990 to 65.6 percent in 2000, according to the Census Bureau.

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To encourage more people to buy homes in the city more amenities are needed, Bruchey said.

The recent transition of the Fairgrounds into a community park with athletic fields, more high-tech jobs and the planned arts and entertainment district and University System of Maryland Hagerstown education center downtown could get more people to invest in buying homes here, he said.

Bruchey said more affordable housing is needed for people with low incomes, but too much income to qualify for federal assistance.

He said he knew of such people seeking homeownership, including a woman with a decent job and paying $400 a month rent.

Spielman said many local residents make only $8 an hour or less. Such income makes it impossible to own a home, she said.

What the Census 2000 numbers are telling Spielman is that "prices for homes are continuing to rise and we're still having a problem with employment opportunities to allow people to make decent money."

The housing statistics from Census 2000 released this week were part of an abbreviated version of the demographic profile expected to be released in June.

For example, it states how many people lived in institutionalized group quarters, but did not break down the category to show how many were inmates and how many were nursing home residents. Noninstitutionalized group quarters include college dormitories, military quarters and group homes.

The profile shows Washington County's senior citizen population increasing, the average household size getting 2.8 percent smaller with 2.46 members and the number of households with a female householder and children younger than 18 escalating 36.7 percent to 3,351 in 2000.

The numbers also show a dramatic increase in the Asian Indian and Chinese populations in Washington County.

The Asian Indian population more than tripled from 90 people in 1990 to 324 in 2000.

The Chinese population almost doubled from 87 people in 1990 to 162 in 2000.

For more information about Census 2000, visit www.census.gov.

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