5 Charts That Show A Growing Crisis For Renters In America

There has been a silent crisis unfolding for millions of low-income Americans for a decade. They cannot afford rental rates on housing. Even when they can, rent takes up such a significant portion of their income that they must cut back on other household necessities.

That is the takeaway from a new report released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University today. At a conference on the state of rental housing today, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sean Donovan emphasised these worrisome realities.

“The simple fact is that we are in the midst of the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has known,” he said.

Here are five graphs that show it:

1. Since 2000, renter incomes have fallen almost every year while rental costs have risen. This trend has put a significant strain on the ability of low-income Americans to afford rent.


Joint Center for Housing Studies

2. 50 per cent of renters now have housing costs of at least 30% of their household income. The map below shows which states have the highest proportion of cost-burdened renters.


Joint Center for Housing Studies

3. These costs have forced renters to cut back on other goods. Low-income renters purchase $US350 worth of food per month when they have affordable housing but they only spend slightly over $US200 when they face severe rental cost burdens. The same is true for a number of goods.

4. Renters often choose to live in insufficient units in order to save on rent. While many of these renters are not burdened by rental costs, they are still hurt by the rental crisis.

5. Finally, this problem is not going to get any better on its own. Millions of seniors are expected to need rental housing in the coming decade. Without additional supply, this excess demand will push prices even higher and will make this crisis even worse.

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