Housing Cost Burdens Remain Widespread

National Housing Conference Report Finds Housing Cost Burdens Remain Widespread among Working Households
Posted: 2/19/2016
The National Housing Conference’s (NHC) Center for Housing Policy released its Housing Landscape 2016 Report February 18. The report uses the latest American Community Survey data to evaluate severe housing cost burdens of low and moderate income working households, defined as households in which members work at least 20 hours a week on average and total household income does not exceed 120 percent of area median income. The report finds extensive housing cost burdens among working households, especially renter households.

In 2014 more than 17.6 million total households, including 9.6 million working households, were severely housing cost burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their pretax income for housing. The report found that working renter households represent a large share of those with severe cost burdens. A quarter of working renter households had a severe housing cost burden in 2014.

Between 2011 and 2014, the share of the population that rents rather than owns a home rose from 50.8 percent to 52.6 percent and median housing costs for working renters rose 6 percent. Over that time period, the average housing cost for working homeowners dropped by 5 percent.

The report also found that some segments of the population are particularly impacted by housing cost burdens. Among working households in 2014, 25 percent of Hispanic and 24.5 percent of Black households were severely cost burdened compared to 17.8 percent of white households. Extremely low-income households—those making less than 30 percent of area median income—are also much more likely to be severely housing cost burdened. In 2014, nearly four out of every five extremely low-income households were severely cost burdened.

The report highlights several federal programs that seek to address the pressing need for affordable housing, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Section 8, and the HOME Investment Partnerships Programs. The report concludes that although these programs are crucial to those receiving help, current resources are not enough to meet the need for affordable housing and stable neighborhoods.

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