Renters Continue to Face Affordability Challenges

Urgent Need for More Affordable Housing

2014 State of the Nation’s Housing On June 26, 2014, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released the 2014 State of the Nation’s Housing report during a live webcast with a panel of housing experts. The panelists highlighted the report’s findings on housing affordability challenges and emphasized the urgent need for more affordable housing.

The rental market tightened in 2013 due to a continued increase in demand for rental housing.

Key findings include that:

  • The number of renter households rose by more than half a million in 2013, with households earning less than $15,000 annually making up 25% of that growth, and households with income between $15,000 and $29,999 making up 30% of the growth.
  • As the number of renters rose in 2013, the rental housing vacancy rate fell to 8.3%, the lowest since 2000.
  • These trends are coupled with rising rents and declining incomes.
  • The median rent paid increased by 4% between 2001 and 2012, while median renter incomes were 13% lower in 2012 than in 2001.

In 2012, these factors led to 20.6 million renter households experiencing housing cost-burden, paying more than 30% of their income for housing. This was the sixth consecutive year that the number of housing cost-burdened renters rose.

According to the report, there is a continued lack of housing both affordable and available to lower income renters. In 2012, there were only 3.3 million affordable and available units for 11.5 million extremely low income households (those with income below 30% of the area median income.)

Most new multifamily construction has been creating units at the upper end of the rent distribution and therefore out of reach for low-income households.

While the need for affordable housing is rising, government programs continue to struggle to meet demand.

Click here for the 2014 State of the Nation’s Housing report.

Click here for the interactive map.

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