Residents renting rather than buying

The Great American Dream is looking a little different for people in Glendale and Burbank, according to the latest round of U.S. Census data released this week.

Residents have replaced the image of a white picket fence and a mortgage with apartment or condominium leases, with nearly 62% of Glendale and 56% of Burbank residents in the rental market.

Gaby Flores, deputy director of Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services, attributed the trends partially to the floundering economy and its impact on people’s priorities.

“Renting has become a better option for some because it’s flexible,” said Flores, who also headed up Burbank’s Complete Count committee for the 10-year census. “People might be finding they need that flexibility in case they need to pick up and go to another city or location to find or keep a job.”

The high number of renters in Glendale did not surprise Jeff Hamilton, a senior city planner who served as Glendale’s point man for the census.

The number of renters in the city has hovered around 60% since the 1980s, he said.

Vacant rental units in Glendale, however, jumped from 1.9% in 2000 to 5.5 % in 2010, which may prove beneficial for renters at the cost of the property owners, Hamilton added.

“The big jump in the vacancy rate may be good news for renters as people are getting priced out of, or losing, homes,” Hamilton said. “It might push rental prices down, but people may be abandoning Glendale for other more affordable housing.”

The aging baby boomer population also continues to have a strong hold on home ownership rates in both cities. The percentage of residents 65 or older who own their own homes in Glendale is at 28.4% and 27.5% in Burbank, part of a nationwide trend as the median age increases year to year.

Both cities are also generally getting older, according to the U.S. Census data. The median age of Glendale residents jumped to 41 in 2010 from 37.3 in 2000, and 34.3 in 1990. In Burbank, the median age in 2010 was 38.9, compared to 36.4 in 2000 and 34 in 1990.

“We hope and think this is temporary and short-lived,” said Flores. “And when things get better, the American Dream of buying a home will come back on people’s radars.”

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