NLIHC Releases Updated Rental Housing Programs Database and Accompanying Report

NLIHC released on October 19 an update to the Rental Housing Programs Database (RHPD), a publicly available collection of information on state and locally funded programs that create, preserve, or increase access to affordable rental housing. Created to better understand the ways state and local governments use their own financial resources to close the gap between available federal funding for rental housing and the unmet needs of renters in their communities, the RHPD helps housing advocates, state and local agencies, policymakers, and other interested parties learn about initiatives around the country that can serve as models for programs in their own communities. An accompanying report, State and Local Investments in Rental Housing: A Summary of Findings from the 2023 Rental Housing Programs Database, summarizes the characteristics of rental housing programs included in the 2023 RHPD.

The RHPD focuses on state and locally funded rental housing programs that provide tenant-based rental assistance, project-based rental assistance, capital resources, a combination of rental assistance and capital resources, or tenant tax relief. Detailed information on the scope, objectives, eligibility requirements, priority populations, and other program characteristics was collected through surveys completed by program administrators and detailed internet research by NLIHC staff.

The report offers a comprehensive overview of rental housing programs included in the updated RHPD. As of August 2023, 353 active rental housing programs had been identified – including 281 state-funded programs and 72 locally funded programs – across 48 states, the District of Columbia, and 41 of the largest U.S. cities. Over half of these programs (55.2%) provide capital resources to developers or other entities for the construction, acquisition, rehabilitation, or preservation of affordable rental housing properties; roughly a fourth (26.9%) provide tenant-based rental assistance to cover the difference between total housing costs up to a specified payment standard and what a tenant can afford to pay.

The report also finds that many rental housing programs target lower-income renters. For example, nearly a quarter (23.1%) of rental assistance programs require applicants to be very low-income renters (household income at or below 50% of area median income), while 14.8% of rental assistance programs are specifically for extremely low-income renters (household income at or below 30% of area median income). Forty percent of tenant tax relief programs, which provide renters a refund to offset property tax costs passed on through rent, require applicants to have an annual income at or below $35,000. Capital resources programs that fund the construction, purchase, or rehabilitation of affordable rental housing tend to be inclusive of higher-income renters, but often require funded properties to set aside a specific percentage of units for very or extremely low-income renters.

The report also reveals that rental housing programs in the RHPD rely on general revenue than on any other type of funding (39.4%). At least a fourth (23.5%) of all programs are supported by dedicated revenue streams. However, only a tenth of tenant-based rental assistance programs receive funds from dedicated funding streams, in contrast to roughly a third each of project-based rental assistance programs and capital resources programs. Nearly one in five programs utilize special one-time funding, including federal SLFRF funds and non-federal sources.

Explore the Rental Housing Programs Database, read the report, and learn more about our findings here.