HUD’s Numbers Up Dramatically
Conducted every two years, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) reports on the severity of worst case needs for affordable rental housing. Worst case needs are defined as renters with very low incomes— no more than 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI)—who do not receive government housing assistance and who pay more than one-half of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both.
Their findings are staggering. The number of worst case needs has increased by 40.6 percent since 2007, when the recession began, and by 65.6 percent since 2001. Additionally, 33 percent of very low income (VLI) renter households; 8.2 percent of low income (LI) renter households, and 2.4 percent of middle income (MI) renter households are severely cost-burdened, referring to those households that spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs.
Overall, the unmet need for decent, safe, and affordable rental housing continues to outpace the ability of federal, state, and local governments to supply housing assistance and facilitate affordable housing production. In short, the gap is widening at an accelerated pace; leaving society’s most at-risk (the elderly, single parents and persons with disabilities) to face hard decisions regarding their day-to-day survival.
While the data suggest that the nation’s ongoing economic recovery is continuing to have some beneficial effects on the incomes of very low-income renters, growing competition for a limited supply of affordable units, a rising population of renter households and a declining population of homeowners, a widening rental assistance gap, and rising rents continue to drive severe housing problems among this vulnerable population.
Contributing most to the increase in worst case needs was a notable shift from homeownership to renting, which surpassed even the marked tenure shift trends observed during the recessionary period. This trend is likely to continue as home prices continue to climb (reportedly up more than 6.3 percent in just the past year).
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Don Waltz is a principal of Parker Associates of Jacksonville, Florida, marketing consultants to the real estate industry; Research Specialist, MIRM and a Sales & Marketing professional with Parker Associates based in Jacksonville, FL. He can be reached at 904-307-1314 or via email email@example.com.