As Homeowners become Renters, Poor Americans Spend more for Rentals

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Now is not a good time to be a renter in the United States. Ever since the collapse of the housing market last decade, demand for apartments has soared, and so have rents.


“We are in the midst of the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has known,” Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said this week at a conference in Washington, DC.


The problem is that the number of people, particularly the working poor, in need of rental housing jumped significantly, while the number of units remained largely the same.


From 2001 to 2011, renters with very low incomes (those making less than $20,000 annually) increased in number by three million to 11.8 million, according to a report (pdf) by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. During the same time period, the number of affordable apartments held steady at about seven million.


To make matters worse, about 2.6 million of those rentals were occupied by higher-income households, Annie Lowrey reported for The New York Times.


More people are now spending a larger portion of their earnings on rent, too. In 2000, the share of renters paying more than 30% of their income for housing was 38%. By 2010, the share had risen to 50%.


Among those making less than $15,000 a year, 83% spend more than 30% of their income on rent.


“These are the people with the fewest financial resources,” Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a research and advocacy group based in Washington, told the Times. “These are the people in danger of becoming homeless.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

With Rental Demand Soaring, Poor Are Feeling Squeezed (by Annie Lowrey, New York Times)

Renters Still Feeling Increasing Pressure of Economic Crisis…Record Level Spends Half of Income for Housing (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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