WASHINGTON, D.C.- This week the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economonic Analysis (BEA) released its “Personal Income and Outlays” report for March, 2015, which showed that the price index for personal consumption expenditures rose by just 0.3% from one year earlier (1.3% when food and energy are excluded). What is striking about this extremely low inflation rate is that the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that rents were up 3.5% in March from a year before.
Despite downward pressures on prices in the rest of the economy, the cost of rental housing continues to rise. Rental price increases are a direct result of the mismatch between supply and demand. In the years following the recession and housing collapse of 2008, increasing numbers of households have been forced out of homeownership into the rental market. With the gradual decline in unemployment rate, individuals who were doubling up with family members are now beginning to strike out on their own into the rental market. And builders have not kept pace with the increasing renter demand with new construction. As a result, the rental market vacancy rate is the lowest it has been since 1993.
National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) President and CEO Sheila Crowley stated: “Invariably, those who bear the brunt of this extremely tight rental market and rising rents are the poor. As more people look to rent and compete for what rental housing stock is available, there is a downward pressure on the poorest households. Those with the lowest incomes – seniors, the disabled, veterans, and low-wage working families – get pushed out or end up paying an unsustainable portion of their incomes on housing.”
Nationally there are 10.3 million extremely low income renter households, but only 3.2 million rental homes that are available and affordable to them. As a consequence, stated Dr. Crowley, “Today, 75% of extremely low income renter households spend more than half of their income on housing, and are one financial emergency away from homelessness. Housing insecurity and instability are their constant companions.”
Ms. Crowley states that, in light of this reality confronting the lowest income households, the proposed FY16 appropriations bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies released last week by the House Appropriations Committee, which seriously underfunds federal housing programs for the poor and zeroes out the funding to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), represents “a callous disregard for the plight of millions of Americans who cannot find modest housing they can afford.”
Ms. Crowley calls on Congress to restore funding to critically important programs (NHTF, HOME, Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-Based Rental Assistance, and public housing) that provide affordable housing to our nation’s most vulnerable.
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