Typically, the least affordable U.S. housing markets are that way because home prices are so high. Not El Paso. Here, incomes are so low that it's difficult for a large number of residents to afford even the most modestly-priced homes.
Many of the area's jobs depend on government largesse with Fort Bliss, the city, and school districts serving as major employers. Agricultural support services, trade with Mexico, and the tourist industry also provide many of the employment opportunities. But pay in these jobs is often at minimum wage or only slightly higher.
Source: National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index *The percentage of new and existing homes sold in that metro area that families earning the area's median income can afford based on standard mortgage underwriting criteria.
By Les Christie@CNNMoney - Last updated November 29 2012 02:02 PM ET