The median cost burden for an American renter household crossed an important threshold, reaching 31%, according to the 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS) tables released August 19. This means that half of all renters paid more than 30% of their income for housing, the standard measure of affordability used by the federal government In 2007 the median in the survey was 30%. These tables have been released by the Census Bureau on-line in advance of the printed AHS report, which is expected in October 2010.
For homeowners, the median housing cost-to-income ratio was 20%, unchanged from 2007. It is possible that the rate of unaffordable cost burden among owners remained low as more cost-burdened and lower income homeowners made a return to renting or living with others. The monthly cost of housing for owners increased by $73, to $1,000, from 2007 to 2009. The median cost of housing for renters increased $13 during this period to $808.
The survey also reports that 1.1% of all households that moved in the year prior to the summer of 2009 did so due to an eviction. This is compared to 0.45% in 2007, a 144% increase. According to the tables, 107,000 more households reported being evicted in 2009 than reported being evicted in the same period two years before.
The AHS is a biennial survey that provides an unequaled level of detail about American housing, on topics ranging from construction and heating and cooling systems, to financing, neighborhood perceptions, and household characteristics. Given its length and the detailed nature of its questions, the national AHS has a limited sample size and it does not provide information at the state level or for more local geographies. Some data for larger metropolitan areas are available from a separate series of AHS Surveys. The Public Use File, which researchers use to create their own tables, was released earlier this summer.
The 2009 American Housing Survey Tables are available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/ahs09/ahs09.html. The press release announcing the release is at http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/housing/cb10-124.html.