HUD Report Highlights Elevated Worst-Case Housing Needs Despite Short-Term Improvement
HUD recently released the full version of its Worst Case Housing Needs: 2015 Report to Congress following the release of its summary findings in early February. HUD defines “worst case housing needs” as renters with very low incomes (below 50 percent of area median income) who don’t receive government housing assistance and who either spend more than half of their income on rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or face both of these challenges. In 2013, the vast majority of households with worst case housing needs had severe housing cost burdens, while 3 percent lived in severely inadequate conditions.
According to the report, worst case housing needs fell from a record-breaking 8.8 million in 2011 to 7.7 million in 2013. This 9 percent decline is in part due to the economic recovery. However, the report stresses that worst case housing needs remain 50 percent higher than in 2003. The report concludes that worst case housing needs result from a shortage of affordable rental housing. While the total supply of rental units increased 2 percent between 2011 and 2013, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the increase in the number of renter households, which went up by nearly 4 percent. This is especially concerning for low-income households that must compete for a small stock of affordable rental units. In 2013, there were only 65 affordable units available per 100 very low-income renters, and only 39 units available per 100 extremely low-income renters.