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West Virginia

These states have some of the poorest Americans – and the highest homeownership rates | CNN Business

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These states have some of the poorest Americans – and the highest homeownership rates | CNN Business




CNN
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When Vera Sansalone, a realtor in West Virginia showed a log cabin home on a 90-acre property in Mannington to an interested buyer from the Boston area, he was shocked by the $420,000 asking price.

After deciding not to buy it, Sansalone said the Boston buyer left her with one piece of advice: “He said I should mark that property up by about $300,000,” she said.

The relatively low listing price for a home on nearly 4 million square feet of property, while surprising to a Boston native used to sharply higher real estate prices (some studio apartments in Boston are sold for more money), may not come as a shock to residents of West Virginia.

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“Here in West Virginia, you can get 90 acres for under half a million dollars,” Sansalone told CNN.

Owning a home is often touted as core to the American dream – but the ease with which a person is able to buy one is highly correlated to the wealth of the state where they live. When comparing personal wealth data with homeownership, a curious pattern emerges: Many states with high homeownership rates have lower income levels and vice versa.

Demographics, competition for homes and strict zoning regulations all play a role in the cost of real estate.

According to Federal Reserve data, West Virginia’s average personal income of $52,585 per capita is the second-lowest in the US. However, despite its relatively low personal income levels, it has the highest homeownership rate of all 50 states, at 77%, according to US census data. Mississippi—the only state with a lower average personal income than West Virginia—has the third-highest homeownership rate in the country.

Although there are some outliers, the trend is apparent:

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Mike Simonsen, founder of real estate analytics firm Altos Research, recently pointed out the inverse relationship between wealth and homeownership on social media. He told CNN that the relationship surprised him.

“I would have expected that the more wealthy a place is, the more likely that its people can afford a home,” he said. “It turns out the opposite is true.”

New York, California and Massachusetts have some of the highest levels of personal income yet count themselves among the states with the lowest homeownership rates.

One of the main reasons for this low homeownership, according to Simonsen and others, is that those states all contain major cities, which attract a younger, more mobile population and offer more rental and multi-family living options compared to rural areas.

“Big cities attract people who are in transition or the growth stage of their lives. They’re more interested in renting, or they may be more transient,” Simonsen said.

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Many of these cities, such as New York City and San Francisco, also attract buyers from across the US and internationally, bidding up the price of homes.

According to the Federal Reserve, the median sales price of houses sold in the US was $420,800 as of the first quarter. A scroll through Zillow listings shows many three- and four-bedroom homes for sale in West Virginia under $200,000.

But the average value of a home in Manhattan is $1,102,025 and $1,299,639 in San Francisco, according to Zillow.

There’s another reason that big cities skew the data.

Laurie Goodman, the founder of the Housing Policy Center at the Urban Institute, said large cities and their surrounding suburbs also have strict zoning laws that dictate how land may be used.

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“Zoning makes land much more expensive because you’re restricting the use of it,” Goodman said.

She added that land is very scarce in large cities, driving up the cost of buying a home even further.

A growing number of local and state governments, led by both Democrats and Republicans, have begun to rethink zoning laws in response to the nationwide housing shortage. Some local governments have even begun loosening laws to convert vacated office spaces into affordable housing.

The number of apartments in US cities scheduled to be converted from old office spaces has more than quadrupled in the last four years, from 12,100 in 2020 to 55,300 in 2024, according to a recent report from RentCafe, a real estate research company.

The trend is most prominent in Washington DC, New York and Dallas, the report said.

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Governments are getting creative in their attempts to create new housing in other ways: In September, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced an effort to eliminate mandates that parking spaces be included with new construction, freeing up space to build more homes.

“For more than 60 years, we have added layers upon layers of regulations, effectively outlawing the kinds of housing that our city has long relied on,” Adams said in a statement at the time.

Despite the relatively high homeownership rates in some states, the US is experiencing a historically difficult home affordability crisis. Home prices have jumped 47% since early 2020, growing faster than household income, according to a June report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Stephanie Moulton, a professor of housing and urban economics at Ohio State University, said that differences in homeownership by state don’t diminish the fact that it’s becoming less affordable to own a home in most areas of the country.

“We know that owning a home is, for better or worse, the primary mode by which people build wealth in our country,” Moulton said.

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Elevated mortgage rates have also helped fuel one of the most costly housing markets in decades.

Even West Virginia, which counts three out of every four housing units in the state as owner-occupied, isn’t insulated, Sansalone said.

“We’ve seen a change in our markets,” she said. “Home prices are going up here, just as they are across the country. It is a bit more difficult for buyers right now.”



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West Virginia

Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat turned independent, urges Biden to withdraw from the 2024 race

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Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat turned independent, urges Biden to withdraw from the 2024 race


WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat turned independent, urged President Joe Biden on Sunday to drop his reelection bid and focus on the remaining months of his presidency.

“I came to the decision with a heavy heart that I think it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation,” the West Virginia lawmaker told CNN’s ”State of the Union.”

Nearly three dozen Democrats in Congress have said it’s time for Biden to leave the race. Four Democratic senators — Peter Welch of Vermont, Jon Tester of Montana, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — have said the Democratic president should abandon his reelection campaign against Republican Donald Trump.

Biden’s debate performance raised open questions about the 81-year-old’s ability to mount a convincing campaign to defeat Trump.

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“I’m concerned about the president’s health and well-being I really am,” Manchin said on ABC’s “This Week.”

But as the president remains isolated at his beach house in Delaware after being diagnosed with COVID-19, he has said he is ready to return to campaign this week and counter a “dark vision” laid out by Trump. Biden has insisted he can defeat Trump in a rematch from 2020 and has been meeting with family and longtime aides as he resist effort to push him aside.

Nonetheless, Manchin said Biden should clear the way for other Democrats and spend the remainder of his term as “the president he always wanted to be, be able to unite the country, bring it back together, to be able to maybe spend all of his time on solving the problems in Gaza, bringing peace to Gaza and to the Middle East. Also being able to dedicate his time to enforcing, reinforcing Ukraine’s ability to defend and win their freedom, and then be able to show the rest of the world the orderly transfer of power from the superpower of the world.”

He also said, “I truly believe the Democratic Party needs an open process” in picking a new nominee. Manchin said he was not trying to have Kamala Harris, the vice president, replaced. “A healthy competition is what it’s all about,” Manchin said.

Manchin, himself a former governor, said, “I think that we have a lot of talent on the bench, a lot of good people, and I’m partial to governors, because a governor can’t afford to be partial. They can’t afford to be partisan strictly, because that pothole or that bridge doesn’t have a D or an R on it.” He mentioned Govs. Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Josh Shapiro of of Pennsylvania who, he said, “haven’t divided their state. They haven’t made you pick a side and demonize the other side. They have brought people together. This is what an open process would do, I think. It would bring more people out in a process that could bring Democrats like me back.”

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But the Democratic National Committee’s rulemaking arm is pressing ahead with plans for a virtual roll call before Aug. 7 to nominate the presidential pick, ahead of the party’s convention later in the month in Chicago.

Manchin, who became an independent in May after years as a Democrat, is not seeking reelection to the Senate



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West Virginia

Pig roast cooks up aid for college – Dominion Post

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Pig roast cooks up aid for college – Dominion Post


In 1987, a few folks in Boone County got together to see if they could raise some money to help one of their local students attend West Virginia University. The story goes that 10 people put in $100 each and they gave away one $1,000 scholarship. The money also helped buy a trumpet so the student could join the WVU marching band.

That was the origin of what has become one of the WVU Alumni Association’s most unique and successful fundraisers — the annual Boone County Alumni and Friends Pig Roast and Mountaineer Music Frolic. The WVU Alumni Association describes the pig roast as one of its longest running signature chapter events.

The 37th event was held two Saturdays ago at the Water Ways Outdoor Amphitheater in Julian. The big crowd included alumni and friends of the university, past scholarship recipients and folks who just wanted to take in the festivities. They raised somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000.

Consider these numbers from the Boone County Alumni and Friends chapter:

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Since the first event, the organization has raised more than $1 million, mostly from the annual pig roast, and that money has funded about 500 student scholarships. The association is funding more than $40,000 in scholarships for 25 students for the coming school year. That makes the Boone County alumni group the top provider of scholarships among all WVU Alumni chapters.

In a story about the Boone County Alumni and Friends chapter by WVU Today, past president Denise Workman said, “You want kids with potential to have the opportunity to get that education and, if they choose to come home, that’s great, or if they choose something else — they’ve seen a new horizon. We are seeing the difference it’s making for so many students.”

With the many challenges in today’s world, I often hear people wonder how they can make a difference. Some of the problems are just so overwhelming. In addition, we are bombarded with national news coverage that often focuses on conflict and issues that seem intractable.

It is easy to get discouraged and lose sight of what’s possible. That is why what Boone County Alumni and Friends association does is so important. Writer and teacher Margaret J. Wheatley said, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Nearly four decades ago, Boone County decided it was important to help local students who wanted to attend West Virginia University. Their pig roast last weekend was not only a fundraiser for those scholarships, but it was also illustrative of what a community can accomplish when it pulls together.

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Hoppy Kercheval is a MetroNews anchor and the longtime host of “Talkline.” Contact him at hoppy.kercheval@wvradio.com.





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West Virginia

Hinton kicks off first day of ‘WV State Water Festival’

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Hinton kicks off first day of ‘WV State Water Festival’


HINTON, W.Va. (WVVA) – The city of Hinton’s annual West Virginia State Water Festival returned Saturday for the 59th year.

Beginning the festival activities early Saturday morning, residents brought their dogs to participate in a dog parade. Traveling downtown in a little sprinkle of rain, they didn’t let that deter them as the small parade marched to 3rd Park Avenue, where a dog contest awaited participants. Several categories were open for owners to sign up their dogs, including best costume and best in the show.

Participants also had fun days with their animals despite the weather. Others in the city, however, decided that if they were going to get wet, they should do it while at the city pool. The Wild Water Express pool allowed free admission from 10 to 11 a.m. for kids and one parent to come in and swim at the pool for the day. However, Danaylee Long, the 2023 winner and Queen of the Water Festival Coronation, says she wanted to use her title to help her community.

“I just want to kind of get some information to give to the community and their parents.” Long said. “I want them to know about the different resources available for their kids.”

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Long organized this event for the community to help bring awareness to the resources the area provides. Using her status as “Queen Mermaid,”  she asked organizations such as Hinton’s Elks Lodge to come out to the event. Bob Bennett, president of the Elks Lodge 821, says activities like the one Long put together are the key to keeping kids active and healthy.

“We do these activities so that kids are engaged in healthy and fun activities so that the child can grow up and have a good life.” Said Beenett.

The mayor of the city, Jack Scott, adds that this festival doesn’t just impact the community. Adding to that, it demonstrates their willingness to not only hang on to tradition but to show people what the city has to offer in terms of entertainment and opportunities.

“It’s been a big part of our community and a big part of our tradition,” Bennett said. “It also helps create the necessary exposure to let people know what a great quality of life we have here.”

To see a full list of activities, you can click here to view them.

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