On October 16, the Census Bureau released the first findings from the 2013 American Housing Survey (AHS). The AHS is the only comprehensive national survey focused on housing. It is conducted in odd-numbered year, tracking the same units over time, in order to show changes to the housing stock. The 2013 survey included new questions regarding disaster planning and emergency preparedness, public transportation, household involvement in neighborhood and community activities, and “doubled-up” households, focusing on adult children who live at home.
The 2013 national summary tables show that out of the 115.9 million occupied housing units in the country, nearly 2 million (1.7%) had a severe physical problem (including plumbing, heating, or electrical problems), and nearly 4 million (3.4%) had a moderate physical problem. Rental units were more likely than owner-occupied units to have physical problems. Nearly 3% of rental units had a severe physical problem and 6.2% had a moderate physical problem, compared to 1% sof owner-occupied units with a severe problem and 1.9% with a moderate problem.
The survey explored other deficiencies. The one reported most often by renters was signs of cockroaches in the last 12 months (16%), and the one reported most often by owners was signs of mice in the last 12 months (9.5%). Other top issues for renters were water leakage from inside the structure (9.5%), signs of mice (8.3%), and being uncomfortably cold for 24 hours or more (7.9%). For owners, other top concerns were water leakage from outside the structure (8.5%), signs of cockroaches (7.3%), and electric fuses or circuit breakers blown in the last 3 months (6.9%).
The AHS includes housing cost data by tenure. Median monthly housing costs for renters ($850) was less than housing costs for owners ($934). However, a HUD press release indicates that costs for renters increased from $808 in 2009, while costs for owners decreased from $1,000. Furthermore, 27.1% of renters spent more than 50% of their income on housing costs, compared to 12% of owners. In 2013, 17.2% of all renters spent 70% or more of their income on housing costs.
In 2013, 17.9% of owner households and 17.7% of renter households had one or more persons with a disability. A physical disability was the most common disability among renters (11.1%) and owners (10.9%). Renter households were more likely to include a member with a mental disability (6.3%) than owner households (4.9%), while owner households were more likely to include a member with a hearing disability (5.9%) than renter households (3.9%).
One of the special topics covered in the 2013 AHS concerned doubled-up households, defined as households with at least one person over the age of 18 who is not a cohabiting partner and is not enrolled in school. The survey posed questions to households that either had a member move out or move in during the past year. Close to 20 million households had a doubled-up member move in, and 4.4 million had a doubled-up member move out. Those who moved in were most likely to list financial reasons (18.9%) for leaving their previous residence. The majority (56.6%) of doubled-up household members who moved out had stayed doubled-up for more than 12 months. Nearly 29% of those moving out did so due to a major change in the family through marriage, new relationship, divorce, death, or separation. Almost one-quarter of the people who moved out ended up moving into the homes of family or friends, therefore remaining doubled-up.
Data is available on numerous other characteristics, including: manufactured housing, vacant units, family composition, income, housing and neighborhood quality, utilities, appliances, remodeling and repair, and recent moves. Each table shows data by tenure, census region, inside/outside a metropolitan statistical area, and selected household characteristics such as 65 and older, below poverty level, Black not Hispanic, and Hispanic.
The American Housing Survey: 2013 Summary Tables are at http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ahs/data/2013/national-summary-report-and-tables---ahs-2013.html
HUD’s press release about the 2013 AHS tables is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2014/HUDNo_14-129.
Along with the summary tables, the Census Bureau also released the 2013 AHS National Public Use File, containing individual survey responses. These microdata are available at http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ahs/data/2013/ahs-2013-national-public-use-file--puf-.html.