Affordable Housing Gap Grows as Demand Overwhelms Supply
The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently released its annual “State of the Nation’s Housing” report. The report is intended to provide a periodic assessment of the nation’s housing outlook and summarizes important trends in the economics and demographics of housing.
The report finds that the affordable housing gap is growing as rising demand overwhelms supply. In 2011, there were 12.1 million extremely low-income renters, an increase of 2.5 million since 2007. Meanwhile, as of 2011 there were 6.8 million housing units affordable to extremely low-income renters in 2011, 135,000 units fewer than in 2007. Between 2001 and 2011, 650,000 housing units renting for $400 per month–affordable to households earning a full-time minimum wage–were permanently removed from the housing stock, a loss of 12.8 percent of the 2001 low-cost inventory.
The report also found that number of Americans spending half or more of their incomes on housing is at an all-time high. At last count, 20.6 million households were shouldering such severe burdens, including nearly seven out of 10 households with annual incomes of less than $15,000 (roughly equivalent to year-round employment at the minimum wage). But, the report notes, even as the need has never been greater, federal budget sequestration will pare down the number of households receiving rental housing assistance.