CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sept. 22, 2015 – The number of households spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent is expected to rise at least 11 percent – from 11.8 million to 13.1 million – by 2025, according to new research by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) and Enterprise Community Partners Inc. (Enterprise).
The study, Projecting Trends in Severely Cost-Burdened Renters: 2015-2025, says the U.S. will have a growing renter affordability crisis, with the largest increases expected among older adults, Hispanics and single-person households.
According to the study authors, a rental crisis will occur even if current income trends and rent trends turn more favorable because a variety of demographic forces – including the rapid growth of minority and senior populations – will continue to exert pressure on the number of severely cost-burdened renters.
"Our analysis shows that even in the unlikely event that income growth greatly outpaces rent gains, the number of severely cost-burdened renters will remain near current record levels," says Christopher Herbert, managing director of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. "Given these data, it is critical for policymakers at all levels of government to prioritize the preservation and development of affordable rental housing as there are simply not enough quality, affordable rental units to provide housing for the millions of households paying over half their income in rental costs."
Trends projected in the report for 2015-2025
- The number of severely burdened households aged 65-74 will rise 42.1%
- The number of severely burdened households aged 75 and older will rise by 38.9%
- The number of Hispanic households with severe renter burdens will increase 27.3%
- The number of severely burdened single-person households will jump by 12.0%
The Harvard study suggests that the U.S. already has problems housing all its lower-income renters.
"At last measure, 11.2 million extremely low-income households competed for 7.3 million homes affordable to them – a 3.9 million home shortfall," say study authors. "Just over a quarter of eligible very low-income households received rental assistance, leaving 7.7 million unassisted very low-income renters with worst case housing needs in 2013 according to HUD. "Meanwhile, the private sector is unable to supply new homes at rents low enough to reach low-income renters: The median rent of a newly constructed apartment of $1,290 was equal to about half the median renter's monthly household income."
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