There are more renters today than in previous decades, but there are not enough units renting at affordable prices to meet the needs of the lowest income households. According to Housing Spotlight: The Affordable Rental Housing Gap Persists, released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), there is a deficit of 7.1 million rental units affordable and available to extremely low income households, those with income at or below 30% of area median income. Nationwide, there are only 31 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renters. Extremely low income renters make up 25% of the total renter population, but just 7% of all rental units were affordable and available to this population. This report is based on 2012 data, the latest available.
For the first time, this edition of Housing Spotlight also highlights how it is nearly impossible for renters with income at or below 15% of area median income to find housing that they can afford. These renters are considered deeply low income by NLIHC. They are most often elderly or disabled households living on fixed incomes, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There were 4 million of these renter households in 2012, but just 16 affordable and available units for every 100 of them, and 90% spent more than half of their income on housing costs.
Along with these and other national statistics, the report provides data by state, and for the first time this year, by metropolitan area, to provide more clarity on where housing need is greatest. The states where extremely low income renters were least likely to find housing affordable and available to them were Nevada, with just 15 units of available and affordable housing per 100 renters, followed by Arizona and California (20), Florida and Oregon (21), and Texas (26). The states with the most rental units affordable and available to extremely low income households were South Dakota (54) and North Dakota (52). In every state, at least half of all extremely low income renters spent more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs.
Because affordable rental units within a state are often located in parts of the state that are far away from jobs, transit, and other services, NLIHC also looked at the shortage of units for the 50 metropolitan areas with the largest renter populations, and found the situation grim for the lowest income renter households. The Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metro area in Nevada had the greatest need, with just 12 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renter households. No metro area had more than 44 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renter households.
It has always been difficult for lower income households to find affordable units, and today it is harder than ever because renting has become an increasingly common choice among higher income households since the housing crisis. The number of renters with income greater than 120% of area median income increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2012, transforming the rental market by putting upward pressure on rents.
“The housing crisis pushed higher wage earners into the rental market causing rent increases and a surge in the development of luxury apartments, making it nearly impossible for extremely low income households to find housing that is truly affordable to them,” said Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The way to close the gap in rental housing affordable and available to all segments of the extremely low income population,” she continued, “is to fully fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF).” The NHTF is a program signed into law in 2008 to distribute dedicated sources of revenue to states to preserve and expand the supply of rental housing targeted to extremely low income households.
The report is available at http://nlihc.org/article/housing-spotlight-volume-4-issue-1
More information about the NHTF is available at http://nlihc.org/issues/nhtf
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes