U.S. Lacks Housing for 7.2 Million Lowest Income Renters

NLIHC released a new report on March 24 titled The Gap: The Affordable Housing Gap Analysis, 2016 that documents a shortage of 7.2 million affordable and available rental units for the nation’s 10.4 million extremely low income (ELI) renter households, those with incomes at or below 30% of their area median (AMI). Three-quarters of ELI renters are severely cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on rent and utilities. The report calls for greater federal investment in ELI rental housing through the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and other housing programs.

Nationally, there are only 31 affordable and available rental units for every 100 ELI renter households. The report details the shortage of affordable and available rental housing at different income thresholds as well as cost burdens for each of the states, the District of Columbia, and the 50 largest metropolitan areas. No state or metropolitan area has an adequate supply of housing for ELI renters and 20 states have fewer than the national average of 31 affordable and available units per every 100 ELI households. Nevada, the state with the lowest supply relative to need, had 17 affordable and available rental units for every 100 ELI renter households. Other states with the greatest shortfalls include Alaska (21/100), California (21/100), Arizona (21/100), Florida (22/100) and Oregon (22/100). No state has more than 64 affordable and available rental units for every 100 ELI renter households.

The states with the greatest percentage of ELI renters spending more than half of their income on housing are Nevada (85%), Florida (84%), Georgia (81%), Oregon (81%), and Arizona (81%).  In every state, at least half of ELI renters spend more than 50% of their income on housing.

The report calls for addressing the nation’s most critical housing needs through greater investment in the production of ELI housing. In addition to the shortage of 7.2 million available rental units for ELI households, an additional 400,000 rental units, at a minimum, are needed to house the nation’s homeless. New rental housing affordable to ELI households is impossible to produce without subsidies. Today’s major federal affordable housing production programs allow for rents that are too high for ELI renters to afford.

Millions of ELI renters live in housing that is unaffordable to them. Expanding the affordable rental supply to which these cost-burdened ELI households could move would free up their current units for other households further up the income ladder. In short, federal housing policy that targets extremely low income renters will expand housing choices for very low and low income renters.    

The Gap is available at http://nlihc.org/research/gap-report.

The media release is at http://nlihc.org/press/releases/6611