HUD Reports on Lack of Affordable Housing Across Country

Last week the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report documenting what it calls the “worst case housing needs” of 2009. HUD defines “worst case housing needs” as:

Renters with incomes below 50 percent of the Area Median Income who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than half of their income for rent or lived in severely inadequate conditions, or who faced both of these challenges.

HUD found that from 2007 to 2009, the number of renters experiencing severe rent burdens or inadequate conditions jumped more than 20 percent, from 5.9 million to 7.1 million. The vast majority of these 7.1 million families (almost 98 percent) faced severe rent burdens.

These shocking numbers mark a continued upward trend. Since 2001, the number of these cases has increased by almost 42 percent, now accounting for more than 6 percent of all households across the country.

Aside from income losses among renters during this period, one of the main reasons for this sharp increase is a lack of affordable rental housing, particularly in cities, where housing demand and costs are higher. In New York City, the current affordable housing stock, already significantly weakened by years of landlord lobbying, continues to be threatened by the real estate industry and the government of New York. It is estimated that 300,000 rent-regulated units have been lost over the past decade, and on June 15th rent laws protecting 2.5 million tenants are set to expire.

We wrote in an earlier post the importance of renewing these laws. HUD’s report serves to underline the importance of keeping existing housing affordable, while continuing to push for more affordable housing resources to fill the ever-growing gap.

Read HUD’s full report here.