Of Chicago’s 1.3 million renters, over half are paying more than one-third of their incomes on housing, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) reports in a paper released September 15.
The report, which contains data from the Census Bureau, HUD as well as data collected from the MTO’s renter hotline, analyzes the rental situation in the Chicago Metropolitan Area and finds that renters, especially low and moderate-income renters, are severely burdened in the current economic crisis. Between 2000 and 2007, the percentage of rent-burdened tenants rose 13%.
Largely because of increased rental costs in central city Chicago, the majority of low to moderate-income renters appear to have moved out of the inner city and to the peripheral areas. These areas are often away from jobs, schools, and services that renters commonly take advantage of, which adds increased burden on renter families. Adding to renters’ difficulties is the loss of more than 125,000 affordable housing units between 1990 and 2005.
Additionally, the authors find that the conditions of rental housing units have decreased. This complaint, which was received most often on the Metropolitan Tenants Organization Hotline during the time of the study, refers to the physical condition of the rental units and speaks to the need for preservation strategies.
The report ends with a series of policy recommendations. These include such recommendations as increasing the amount of affordable housing through the National Housing Trust Fund, further researching the needs of women in rental housing, and funding maintenance programs for low income housing units. NLIHC President Sheila Crowley was the keynote speaker at an event associated with the release of the report. She spoke on the need for greater balance in federal housing policy between subsidizing homeowners and renters. She congratulated Chicago for having such a strong and effective tenants’ organization in MTO.
More details, as well as graphs and maps can be found in the report, The State of Renters in the City of Chicago, at: http://www.tenants-rights.org/MTOStateofRentersReport.pdf.