The U.S. Census Bureau released twelve new installments in its American Community Survey (ACS) Brief series on October 12. The briefs cover a variety of topics including housing, poverty, and disability. The Rental Housing Market Condition Measures 2009 brief presents data specifically on cost, cost burden and the vacancy rate providing a convenient overview and source for information on national and metropolitan area rental housing markets.
In 2009, the national median gross rent (contract rent plus utilities) was $842. The median gross rent for metropolitan areas ranged from a low of $495 in the Johnstown, PA metro area to a high of $1,414 in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA metro area. Fifty-four percent of residents in the 50 most populous metro areas spent more than the national median on rent.
Nationwide, nearly two in five renter households (42.5%) were burdened by housing costs, which the report defines as occurring when gross rent consumes 35% or more of a household’s income. HUD’s standard for unaffordable housing is when a household spends more than 30% of its income on housing costs.
The heaviest burden fell on renters in California and Florida, two states hardest hit by housing market-led recession. Renters in the 50 most populous metropolitan regions were actually somewhat less likely to be burdened by their rent than renters nationwide. Of the 50 most populous metro areas, 37 had proportions of renters who had an unaffordable housing cost burden that were lower or not significantly different from the national rental cost burden. The brief suggests this can be explained by the presence of renters with generally higher average incomes in these markets, which compensates for higher gross rents in big cities.
The brief also finds that the national rental vacancy in 2009 was at 8.4% according to the ACS, ranging from 0.5% in the Logan UT-ID metro area to 33.4% in the Myrtle Beach, SC metro area. While only 19.7% of all metropolitan areas had vacancies above the national rate, among the 50 most populous areas 21 (42%) had vacancies above the national rate. The country is currently experiencing historically high rates of vacancy for both rental and for-sale housing as a result of the housing bust of the late 2000s.
For more information and to access complete brief series: www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/acs_briefs/