NLIHC’s newest report reveals the deep and growing mismatch between the supply and demand of affordable units for the lowest income renters. According to NLIHC’s analysis of 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data, there were only 30 affordable and available rental units for every 100 extremely low income (ELI) renter households in 2010. ELI households are those with incomes at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI).
The Housing Spotlight brief shows that the number of units affordable to the lowest income renters continues to decline despite the rising number of renters in need. From 2009 to 2010, the number of ELI renter households increased by almost 200,000 to a total of approximately 9.8 million, or one out of every 4 renter households. At the same time, the supply of units affordable to ELI households, which has long been inadequate to meet the high demand, decreased to only 5.5 million units, bringing the absolute deficit of affordable units up from 3.9 million in 2009 to 4.3 million in 2010.
In other words, for every 100 ELI renters, there were only 56 units in which they could potentially live without experiencing a cost burden (spending more than 30% of their income on housing and utility costs). There is also a shortage of units affordable to those earning at or below 50% of AMI, but a surplus emerges for those earning at or below 80% of AMI.
The analysis then breaks down which households are actually living in these affordable units, making it clear that the situation is actually much worse for ELI renter households. While these units may technically be affordable to ELI renters, they are not always actually available to them if higher income households are renting them. With availability in mind, the shortage of affordable units increases from 4.3 million to 6.8 million, meaning that there were only 30 affordable and available units per 100 ELI renter households in 2010. This is a decrease from 33 affordable and available units per 100 ELI renter households in 2009.
As would be expected with such a decline in the affordable housing stock, the number of renters across all income groups forced to spend more than half of their income on housing and utility costs (considered to have severe housing cost burden) increased from 2009 to 2010. NLIHC analysis of ACS data found that of those renters paying more than half of their income on housing costs, 68.2% of them were ELI households. In considering this data, the trend to keep in mind is that a household shouldering a severe housing cost burden has a higher chance becoming homeless.
Also examined in the current issue of Housing Spotlight, is affordable and available units at the state level. The lack of affordable and available units is most severe in the western states as well as in Texas and Florida. The Spotlight demonstrates that the crisis varies by state, but that not a single state in the U.S. has enough units that are both affordable and available to house all ELI renters.
“There are millions of families in the United States whose incomes are so low and whose housing costs are so high that all it would take is a few days out of work with a sick child or one high heating bill to push them into homelessness,” said Sheila Crowley, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in a press release. “This is the forgotten housing crisis, overshadowed by the emphasis on foreclosed upon or underwater homeowners.”
Housing Spotlight was provided first to NLIHC members as a member benefit. The current issue is available on NLIHC’s website at http://nlihc.org/library/housingspotlight
View the press release on the report at: http://nlihc.org/detail/article.cfm?article_id=8475&id=48