A publication by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), titled Chart Book: Federal Housing Spending Is Poorly Matched to Need, illustrates the extent to which federal housing expenditures disproportionately benefit higher income homeowners, while leaving 75% of qualified low income renters without housing assistance. Seven million households with annual incomes greater than $200,000 received at least $83 billion in federal housing expenditures in 2014, while the 55 million households with incomes less than $50,000 received $30.2 billion. Households with annual incomes above $200,000 receive an average benefit more than four times greater than the average benefit received by households with annual incomes below $20,000. Approximately 70% of the $190 billion in federal housing expenditures last year went to homeowners.
The largest federal housing expenditures are the mortgage interest and property tax deductions taken by homeowners on their federal income tax returns. Forty percent of the more than $100 billion expended on these two deductions goes to families with incomes above $200,000. Meanwhile, less than $50 billion is spent on the major federal housing programs for low income households – public housing, Housing Choice vouchers, Section 8 project-based rental assistance, and low income housing tax credits.
Low income renters, particularly extremely low income (ELI) renters whose household income is less than 30% of the area median income, have the greatest need for housing assistance. In 2014, ELI renter households accounted for 70% of all severely cost burdened renter households spending more than half of their incomes on housing. Housing Choice vouchers, Section 8 project-based rental assistance, and public housing are highly effective in helping over 5 million of our nation’s neediest families. However, current levels of funding fall short of the large and growing demand. Only one in four eligible households receives assistance.
Chart Book: Federal Housing Spending Is Poorly Matched to Need is available at http://bit.ly/1UM8ruF