Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Worst Case Housing Needs

Worst Case Housing Needs Increase by 20%
by Richard W. Brown on February 1, 2011

7.1 million households paid more than half their income for
rent or lived in substandard housing

In a report to Congress released today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found thatworst case housing needs” grew by nearly 1.2 million households, or more than 20 percent, from 2007 to 2009 and by 42 percent since 2001. “Worst case housing needs” are defined as low-income households who paid more than half their monthly income for rent, lived in severely substandard housing, or both. The increase in the extent of worst case housing needs represents the largest two-year jump since HUD began reporting this segment of the rental market in 1985. Unemployment and under-employment pushed 410,000 more households into the worst case needs category accounting for more than one-third of all new cases.
HUD’s report found:
  • Worst case housing needs were 7.10 million in 2009 (41 percent of very low-income renters), up from 5.91 million (37 percent). This represents more than a 20 percent increase from the number of worst case needs in 2007.
  • Every racial/ethnic group experienced increases in worst case housing needs during 2007-2009 with Hispanic households having the largest increase in incidence (8 percentage points).
  • Higher income families are competing for a limited number of affordable rental units further driving down already-low vacancy rates for the lowest rent units. Only 36 of every 100 extremely low-income renters have affordable units available to them.
  • Dramatic increases in worst case needs were caused by shrinking incomes as well as rent increases due to increased competition among low-income families for fewer affordable units.
  • Worst case needs among renters with disabilities increased from 37.5 percent to 40.7 percent (of all very low-income renters with disabilities).
  • The availability of affordable rental housing varies across regions of the country with supply most scarce in the West, where only 53 units available per 100 very low-income renter households, compared with 65 in the South, 66 in the Northeast and 87 in the Midwest.
HUD’s study, Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: A Report to Congress, one in a long-term series of reports designed to measure the scale of critical housing problems facing low-income un-assisted American renting households.
The findings are based on data from the U.S Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey conducted between May and September of 2009. This report finds a direct link between the increased numbers of worst case needs and the recent recession and related joblessness.
These worst case housing needs are defined as renters with very low incomes (below half the median in their area) who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than half their monthly incomes for rent, lived in severely substandard conditions, or both. HUD’s report finds that needs cut across all regions of the country and included all racial and ethnic groups, regardless of whether they lived in cities, suburbs or rural areas. In addition, HUD concluded that large numbers of worst case needs were also found across various family types including families with children, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities.

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