HUD Reports Record Increase in Worst Case Housing Needs

HUD will release the full 2011 Worst Case Housing Needs Report on Monday, February 25. In a summary released on February 22, HUD reports a dramatic rise in the number of families with very low incomes (at or below 50% of the median income in their area) who paid more than half their monthly income on rent, lived in severely substandard housing, or both. According to the summary, the number of unassisted renter households with these “worst case housing needs” increased from 7.1 million in 2009 to 8.5 million in 2011, a 19% increase over two years. Since 2007, this number has risen by more than 2.5 million, or 43.5%. As a comparison, from 2001 to 2003, the number of families with worst case housing needs increased by just 162,000, or 3.2%. HUD found that worst case housing needs increased across all racial groups, household types, and regions of the country. Some of the largest increases were seen among Hispanic and non-Hispanic white households with almost half (48%) of all new cases of worst case housing needs were found among white households and 28% were found among Hispanic households. According to the summary, 38% of all households with worst case housing needs were families with children and 17% were elderly households. Furthermore, the number of households with worst case housing needs with at least one nonelderly person with a disability increased from 990,000 in 2009 to 1.3 million in 2011. HUD concludes that the significant increase in the number of very low income renters with worst case housing needs is primarily due to the substantial number of homeowners who became renters as a result of poor economic and housing market conditions such as high unemployment rates and the foreclosure crisis. There was also a fairly significant uptick in new household formation. These two factors accounted for 53% of the total increase in worst case housing needs. Other contributing factors to the overall increase included falling incomes among renters (15%), a continuing shortage of rental housing assistance (9%), and an increasing deficit of affordable housing (23%).    “These sobering numbers remind us that as we work to craft a balanced approach to our budget and priorities, we can’t lose sight of those who may be teetering on the brink of homelessness,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in a press release about the report.Click here to view the report, Worst Case Housing Needs 2011: A Summary Report to Congress (PDF). NLIHC will provide a more comprehensive analysis of the full report in next week’s Memo to Members.