NLIHC Report Spotlights Affordable Rental Housing Shortage

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) last week released its annual report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes. According to the study, there are 11.2 million extremely low-income (ELI) renter households in the United States (households with incomes at or below the Department of Health and Human Services’ poverty guideline or 30 percent of area median income, whichever is higher). The 11.2 million ELI households are nearly 26 percent of all renter households and almost 10 percent of all households. NLIHC found that for every 100 ELI renter households, there are only 35 affordable and available rental units, meaning there is a shortage of approximately 7.2 million units for ELI renters.

The report notes that the shortage of available units predates the Great Recession but has steadily worsened in the years since. In 2007, for example, for every 100 ELI renter households, there were 40 affordable and available rental units.

The study attributes the growing availability problems to a decline in federal funding for HUD programs. According to the report, funding for key HUD programs such as Section 811, HOME, and Housing Choice Vouchers has declined 9.3 percent, adjusted for inflation, from FY 10 to FY 17. The report also estimates that if the Administration’s proposed FY 19 Budget were adopted, more than 200,000 families would lose federal rental assistance, exacerbating the shortage of available and affordable rental units.

NLIHC’s report says it believes that the expansion of the Housing Trust Fund, the improvement of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program through legislation such as "The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act" (S.548/H.R. 1661), and significant increases in investment towards the rehabilitation and preservation of existing public housing would all be effective ways to address the housing problems the most vulnerable renters in the country are facing.

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