A new report shows that the lowest income households in the U.S. are struggling to find affordable rental housing in every state across the country, as well as in the 50 most populous metropolitan areas. This situation is not likely to improve in the coming year because rental vacancy rates are at historic lows, and the bulk of new multifamily units are only affordable to middle or high income households. In addition, there is a continued loss of public and assisted housing through demolition and conversion to market-rate developments.
The report, Housing Spotlight: Affordable Housing is Nowhere to be Found for Millions, released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), shows that there are only 31 rental homes affordable and available for every 100 extremely low income renters in the United States. Extremely low income households have incomes at or below 30% of the area median income.
There are 10.3 million extremely low income renter households in the country, making up 24% of the entire renter household population, but there are just 3.2 million units affordable and available to them. An affordable and available unit is one which does not cost more than 30% of a household’s income and is not occupied by a higher income household. This means that nationwide, there is a deficit of 7.1 million rental units affordable and available to extremely low income households. The report is based on 2013 American Community Survey data, the latest available.
The extent of the problem varies greatly from state to state, but no state has more than 56 units of rental housing affordable and available for every 100 extremely low income households. The states with the fewest units are Nevada (15), California (21), Arizona (22), Oregon (22), Florida (23), Colorado (24), and Utah (24). The states with the most rental units affordable and available to extremely low income households are South Dakota (56) and Wyoming (55). In every state, at least 60% of all extremely low income renters spent more than half of their income on housing costs.
Along with national and state data, NLIHC also presents information on the shortage of affordable rental housing in the 50 metropolitan areas with the largest renter populations. Twenty-nine of these metropolitan areas have 30 or fewer affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renter households. The Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metro area in Nevada has the greatest need, with just 10 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renter households. No metro area has more than 47 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renter households.
NLIHC applauds the December decision by Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt to begin setting aside funding for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). The NHTF will provide a dedicated source of revenue to states to preserve and expand the supply of rental housing targeted to extremely low income households. This investment in deeply affordable housing is welcome, but additional funding to the NHTF will be necessary to ensure that there are enough affordable rental homes for all income-eligible households.
“This country has been neglecting the housing needs of extremely low income households for far too long, and as a result we need more than 7 million affordable units to meet the current demand,” said Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Funds from the NHTF will help,” she continued, “and we’re thrilled that this much anticipated fund is finally receiving revenue, but the first year of revenue will be small, so it’s critical that we make a larger commitment to solving this problem.”
The report is available at www.nlihc.org/article/housing-spotlight-volume-5-issue-1.
More information about the NHTF is available at www.nlihc.org/issues/nhtf