Report Highlights Challenges of Working Households
On Feb. 19, the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy released its annual Housing Landscape report entitled, “The Housing Affordability Challenges of America’s Working Households.” In summarizing the affordable housing challenges of low- and moderate-income working households, the report found that these households have greater affordability challenges than the overall population.
According to the report, working renters have faced steadily rising housing costs since 2009. The foreclosure crisis in the U.S. turned many foreclosed homeowners into renters and limited credit availability, preventing many would-be homebuyers from transitioning into homeownership. These factors have driven up demand and prices for a constrained supply of rental housing. The report also found that while working renter incomes outpaced rising rents between 2009 and 2012, there are still 5.9 million working renter households that are severely cost burdened.
In addition, there’s no guarantee that wages will continue to rise faster than rents in this weak economic recovery. Unless the availability of affordable rental housing increases, it will be difficult to make additional progress in reducing the number of severely cost-burdened working households.
Some other highlights of the report include:
- Nearly eight in 10 working extremely low-income (ELI) households, who make 30 percent or less of area median income (AMI), are severely housing cost-burdened. This number does not include unemployed households, seniors, and persons with disabilities.
- Federal housing assistance (such as Housing Choice Vouchers, property-based rental assistance, and public housing) reaches only one in four of those in need, and funding levels in the past few years have reduced their reach even further.
- The ability to produce new housing affordable to lower-income households depends largely on the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program and to a lesser extent the HOME block grant program, both of which could reach even more low- and moderate-income working households if expanded.
- The report cites numerous corollary benefits to the financial stability that accompanies affordable housing. Families that spend less on housing are able to invest more in other essentials, such as adequate food, childcare, medical needs, and transportation costs. As a result, families and communities with greater affordable housing opportunities have a foundation for other positive outcomes, including health, education, and economic benefits.