Number of Renters with Worst Case Housing Need Hits Record High

HUD released an Executive Summary of its forthcoming Worst Case Housing Needs 2023 Report to Congress on August 21. According to the summary, HUD estimates that a record-high 8.53 million very low-income renter households had worst case housing needs in 2021, surpassing the previous high of 8.48 million in 2011, following the 2007-2009 recession. Renters with worst case housing needs have incomes below 50% of area median income (AMI), do not receive housing assistance and either spend more than half of their incomes on housing costs or live in severely inadequate housing, or both. Housing (un)affordability is a much more prevalent problem than housing quality, as fewer than 3% of worst case housing needs cases in 2021 could be attributed to severely inadequate housing quality.

Overall, 44% of very low-income renters had worst case housing needs in 2021, an increase from the 42% identified in 2019. The rate differed by race and ethnicity. Fifty-three percent of very low-income Asian renters had worst case housing needs in 2021, as did 47% of Hispanic, 44% of non-Hispanic white, and 39% of non-Hispanic Black very low-income renters. The previous report indicated that Black, non-Hispanic very low-income renters are less likely to have worst case housing needs partly because they are more likely to receive housing assistance. Without assistance, though, Black renters in the private market are more likely than white renters to have a severe housing problem.

HUD attributes the increase in worst case housing needs in 2021 to a number of factors, the most significant of which is the formation of new households, which increases the demand for housing. The other factors, in order of significance, include a loss of affordable and available rental housing for very low-income renters, an increase in the number of very low-income renters, and a reduction in the share of very low-income renters receiving assistance. Some of these factors mirror the findings of NLIHC’s analysis of American Community Survey (ACS) data, indicating a significant increase in the number of extremely low-income renters and a decrease in affordable homes available for them between 2019 and 2021 (Memo, 3/20).

To address worst case housing needs among very low-income households, HUD calls for a broad strategy at the federal, state, and local levels that supports market production and access to affordable homes and provides rental assistance to the most vulnerable renters.

Read the summary at: