About the Gap Report
Each year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) measures the availability of rental housing affordable to extremely low income households and other income groups. Based on the American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (ACS PUMS), The Gap presents data on the affordable housing supply and housing cost burdens at the national, state, and metropolitan levels. This year’s report also examines the demographics, disability and work status, and other characteristics of extremely low income households most impacted by the national shortage of affordable and available rental housing.
Who are the Lowest Income Renters?
Of the 43.8 million renter households in the U.S., 11.2 million (more than one-quarter) have extremely low incomes at or below the poverty level or 30% of the area median income (AMI), whichever is higher. Extremely low income renters are more likely to be elderly or disabled or to have children than other renters. Nearly half (46%) of extremely low income renter households are elderly or disabled.
Black and Hispanic renter households are more likely to be extremely low income than white renters. Thirty-five percent of the 8.5 million non-Hispanic black renter households and 29% of the 8.4 million Hispanic renter households are extremely low-income. In comparison, 21% of the 23.2 million non-Hispanic white renter households are extremely low income.
|Non-disabled, non-elderly without children||Non-disabled, non-elderly with children||Disabled w/children||Disabled||Senior|
|Extremely Low Income Renter Households||25%||29%||7%||15%||24%|
|All Other Renter Households||45%||28%||3%||6%||17%|
There is a Severe Shortage of Affordable Housing for the Lowest Income Renters
The U.S. has a shortage of 7.2 million rental homes affordable and available to extremely low income renters. Only 35 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low income renter households. Extremely low income households face a shortage in every state and major metropolitan area, including the District of Columbia. Among states, the supply of affordable and available rental homes ranges from only 15 for every 100 extremely low income renter households in Nevada to 59 for every 100 extremely low income renter households in Maine. For the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S, the supply ranges from 10 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low income renter households in Las Vegas, NV to 47 in Providence, RI.
The Shortage of Affordable Housing Results in Cost-Burdens and Housing Instability for Millions of Renters
Cost-burdens are a direct result of the shortage of affordable and available rental homes and low wages. A household is cost-burdened when it spends more than 30% of its income on rent and utilities, and severely cost-burdened when it spends more than 50%. Seventy-one percent of extremely low income renter households are severely cost-burdened. They account for nearly 73% of all severely cost-burdened renter households in the U.S.
|Extremely Low Income||Very Low Income||Low Income||Middle Income||Above Median Income|
|Severe Cost Burden||7,991,168||2,106,973||715,556||102,378||66,919|
Households with cost-burdens must often cut back on other necessities, forego healthy food, or delay healthcare or medications to pay the rent. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, poor households with children who are severely cost-burdened spend 75% less on healthcare and 40% less on food than similarly poor households who are not cost-burdened; and poor seniors who are severely cost-burdened spend 62% less on healthcare.
Cost-burdens make it difficult for households to save for emergencies and put families at greater risk for housing instability and homelessness, which can negatively impact economic stability. A study by Matthew Desmond and Carl Gershenson found that losing one’s housing increased the likelihood of losing one’s job.
What to Do?
The shortage of affordable and available rental housing is an on-going crisis for the lowest income renters. To confront this crisis, federal policymakers must defend and expand investments in affordable housing through deeply targeted HUD programs such as the national Housing Trust Fund, Public Housing, and Housing Choice Vouchers.