Washington, May 24 (AP/UNB) — Living by the beach is becoming even more cost prohibitive.
While many Americans know about the sky-high costs of housing in New York City or Seattle, affordability is increasingly the worst in areas where the wealthy vacation and a large share of local workers cater to their needs. The trend taps into the worsening economic inequality that is reshaping American society.
Roughly 78% of U.S. metro areas have seen home prices rise faster than wages, according to an Associated Press analysis of home values tracked by CoreLogic and government income data. Of the top 10 communities with the biggest gaps between home values and incomes, half were seaside. But there were also places with a growing concentration of highly-paid tech jobs.
"In places that see a widening gap, buying a house and achieving the American Dream is going to be increasingly difficult," said Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. "But if you can get your foot in the door, the benefits may last for a lifetime."
The widest chasm in home prices relative to incomes was in Honolulu, followed by Los Angeles and the Hawaii city of Kahului. Other metros in the top 10 of largest gaps in affordability include Key West, Florida and Ocean City, New Jersey, both tourist destinations. Just outside the top 10 are San Diego, Santa Cruz and part of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Consider Ocean City. This southern stretch of the Jersey shore includes the Victorian cottages of Cape May, the sweeping mansions of Avalon and wood-planked boardwalk of Ocean City, which became a family-oriented resort destination after banning the sale of alcohol. Home prices have climbed 158% since 2000, while wages have increased just 45%.
The area balloons in size each summer with a swell of vacationers, which creates jobs during the summer. But the wealthy with summer homes — who've seen their incomes soar — often earn their fortunes elsewhere. Few restaurant employees and seasonal workers can benefit from a growing stock portfolio or lavish bonuses. So as home prices rise and income growth lags, the year-round population of the surrounding Cape May County has fallen 8.6% since 2000.
Other metro areas in the top 10 of worsening affordability include major tech hubs such as San Jose, California and Austin, Texas. The boom in parts of California has been so robust that price growth in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco is now running below 2% and could turn negative, possibly narrowing the gap relative to incomes.
Rounding out the top ten are the California cities of Napa and San Luis Obispo and Boise, Idaho.
Areas where homes are still affordable relative to incomes are generally in two types of areas.
They're either in places such as the mid-size Georgia cities of Albany and Valdosta where home prices have yet to fully recover to their pre-2008 peaks.
Or, they're in places in Illinois such as Bloomington or Peoria where home prices never experienced either a surge or subsequent crash from the housing bubble, and have seen property values stay mostly flat since 2008.
Seattle, May 22 (AP/UNB) — Ashes to ashes, guts to dirt.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday making Washington the first state to approve composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains.
It allows licensed facilities to offer "natural organic reduction," which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows' worth of soil in a span of several weeks.
Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.
"It gives meaning and use to what happens to our bodies after death," said Nora Menkin, executive director of the Seattle-based People's Memorial Association, which helps people plan for funerals.
Supporters say the method is an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation, which releases carbon dioxide and particulates into the air, and conventional burial, in which people are drained of their blood, pumped full of formaldehyde and other chemicals that can pollute groundwater, and placed in a nearly indestructible coffin, taking up land.
"That's a serious weight on the earth and the environment as your final farewell," said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the Seattle Democrat who sponsored the measure.
He said the legislation was inspired by his neighbor: Katrina Spade, who was an architecture graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, when she began researching the funeral industry. She came up with the idea for human composting, modeling it on a practice farmers have long used to dispose of livestock.
She tweaked the process and found that wood chips, alfalfa and straw created a mixture of nitrogen and carbon that accelerates natural decomposition when a body is placed in a temperature- and moisture-controlled vessel and rotated.
A pilot project at Washington State University tested the idea last year on six bodies, all donors who Spade said wanted to be part of the study.
In 2017, Spade founded Recompose, a company working to bring the concept to the public. It's working on raising nearly $7 million to establish a facility in Seattle and begin to expand elsewhere, she said.
State law previously dictated that remains be disposed of by burial or cremation. The law, which takes effect in May 2020, added composting as well as alkaline hydrolysis, a process already legal in 19 other states. The latter uses heat, pressure, water and chemicals like lye to reduce remains.
Cemeteries across the country are allowed to offer natural or "green" burials, by which people are buried in biodegradable shrouds or caskets without being embalmed. Composting could be a good option in cities where cemetery land is scarce, Pedersen said. Spade described it as "the urban equivalent to natural burial."
The state senator said he has received angry emails from people who object to the idea, calling it undignified or disgusting.
"The image they have is that you're going to toss Uncle Henry out in the backyard and cover him with food scraps," Pedersen said.
To the contrary, he said, the process will be respectful.
Recompose's website envisions an atrium-like space where bodies are composted in compartments stacked in a honeycomb design. Families will be able to visit, providing an emotional connection typically missing at crematoriums, the company says.
"It's an interesting concept," said Edward Bixby, president of the Placerville, California-based Green Burial Council. "I'm curious to see how well it's received."
London, May 18 (AP/UNB) — It's been an eventful first year of marriage for Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle, now known formally as the Duchess of Sussex.
The besotted couple wed on May 19, 2018 before rapt crowds outside of Windsor Castle, with one of the largest TV audiences ever assembled.
The couple was lucky enough to enjoy beautiful spring weather on their wedding day. They made the best of it by taking a carriage ride through Windsor.
They maintained a frenetic pace of official engagements until Meghan withdrew from most royal duties in March ahead of the birth of their first child, Archie, who was born this month.
Harry and Meghan have also moved from central London to a more secluded location near Windsor Castle in a quest for privacy.
Dhaka, Apr 27 (UNB)- Country’s renowned rock band Arbovirus has performed at the launching event of their latest EP (Extended Play), which was observed on today (27th April, 2019) at the GP House, Bashundhara.
The concert was attended by a huge number of Arbovirus fans. The band performed some of their most beloved tracks, along with their newly released songs.
The band launched this EP on 14th April, celebrating the festive occasion of Pahela Baishakh. The EP is exclusively available on GP Music, which has sponsored the album.
“Although it was scheduled to be released on August, 2018- we are glad that we released it on the occasion of our Pahela Baishakh with providing our fans the opportunity to enjoy the new songs during the festivity”- said the band’s lead vocal Sufi Maverick.
The EP album has 4 songs in it. 3 of them have been released and the other one is going to be released on May, informed by GP music.
Formed in 2002, Arbovirus is one of the most beloved rock bands in Bangladesh. The band is heavily known for their enriched lyric and presentation of their unique styles.
Bangkok, Apr 17 (AP/UNB) — A dog found swimming more than 220 kilometers (135 miles) from shore by workers on an oil rig crew in the Gulf of Thailand has been returned safely to land.
A worker on the rig belonging to Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, Vitisak Payalaw, said on his Facebook page that they saw the dog swimming toward the platform last Friday. He said they were lucky to spot it because if there had been waves it probably would not have been visible.
The dog made it to the platform, clinging to the support structure below deck without barking or whimpering, Vitisak wrote.
The crew managed to lower a rope and secure it around the dog's neck and haul it up. Vitisak said they speculated the dog might have fallen off a fishing trawler, and dubbed it Boon Rod, or Survivor.
The dog was delivered by boat to the southern port of Songkhla on Monday and was declared in good shape after being taken to the animal protection group Watchdog Thailand.
Vitisak said if the dog was unclaimed, he would like to take it to his home in northeast Thailand.