Renters Still Feeling Increasing Pressure of Economic Crisis…Record Level Spends Half of Income for Housing

Friday, April 29, 2011
Economic pressures are greater than ever for renters in the United States, as more non-homeowners find the majority of their paychecks going to pay the landlord and utility companies.
Since 1981, the U.S. government has considered that a family paying more than 30% of its income on housing is “burdened” and a family paying more than 50% on housing is “severely burdened.” The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies has reported that more than 10 million renters (about 25% of this segment of the population) now spend more than half their income on rent and utilities. Another quarter of renters (26.2%) spends 30%-50% their earnings in a similar manner.
These days 56% of lower-middle income renters are forking over a third to half of their income on rent and utility bills. A decade ago the rate was 38%.
Since 2000, the median family income has declined, while the costs of housing, food and utilities have increased sharply.
Adding to the troubles of renters is the shrinkage of affordable housing. Since the mid-1990s, more than 700,000 rentals with federal subsidies have disappeared off the subsidized housing market. Also, nearly 12% of low-cost market-rate rentals were demolished or otherwise eliminated from 1999 to 2009.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
New Report Finds Renters Face Record High Affordability Problems (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies) (pdf)
America’s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies) (pdf)


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