Zillow Research Examines Relationship between Rent Affordability and Homelessness

A report from Zillow Research, Homelessness Rises More Quickly Where Rent Exceeds a Third of Income, examines the relationship between rent affordability and homelessness. The report finds that communities where the median rent is more than 32% of the median household income are likely to have sharply higher rates of homelessness.

Zillow looked at rent affordability, homelessness, and poverty across 386 communities. Rent affordability was defined as the ratio of a community’s median rent to its median income. A ratio of median rent to median income greater than 22% was correlated with higher homelessness rates, and a rent-to-income ratio above 32% was associated with even sharper increases in homelessness. This one-third ratio is consistent with the most common definition of housing affordability, where housing costs are considered unaffordable if they exceed 30% of a household’s income.

Zillow categorized communities into one of six clusters based on homelessness rates, housing costs, and poverty levels. The cluster of communities where people were at the greatest risk of homelessness spanned the west coast and some large metropolitan areas on the east coast, which had high homelessness rates, high housing costs, and high poverty rates. The communities in this cluster were home to 15.1% of the nation’s population, but 47.3% of the nation’s homeless population.

Homelessness Rises More Quickly Where Rent Exceeds a Third of Income is available at: https://bit.ly/2L9EW7w

A more detailed paper, Inflection points in community-level homeless rates, is available at: https://bit.ly/2Pz0Q4B