HUD: ‘Worst-Case’ Housing Needs Increasing

The number of very poor unsubsidized families struggling to pay rent–and who may also be living in substandard housing–increased between 2013 and 2015, reported HUD, Washington, D.C.

HUD said 8.3 million very low-income unassisted families paid more than half their monthly income for rent, lived in severely substandard housing or both in 2015.

“Two years ago, our nation was still feeling the aftershocks of our housing recession with rents growing faster than many families’ incomes,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “After years of trying to keep up with rising rents, it’s time we take a more holistic look at how government at every level, working with the private market and others, can ease the pressure being felt by too many un-assisted renters.”

Carson said the affordable rental housing crisis “requires that we take a more business-like approach on how the public sector can reduce the regulatory barriers so the private markets can produce more housing for more families.”

Demand for affordable housing has grown faster than the construction of homes working families can afford to rent–especially in high-cost areas of the country, the HUD report said. Carson and the Trump Administration would like to stimulate affordable housing production and preservation by pursuing housing finance reform. “The Administration seeks to unwind the federal government’s role in the private mortgage market and ease the stress on rental markets, HUD said.

The housing agency defines worst-case housing needs as renters below half the median income 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 said housing needs cut across all regions of the country “and include all racial and ethnic groups, regardless of whether they live in cities, suburbs or rural areas.” In addition, HUD concluded that large numbers of worst-case needs were also found across various household types including families with children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

HUD also found:
–After a decline in worst-case needs from 2011 to 2013, the number of these very poor unsubsidized renter households increased between 2013 and 2015 to the second-highest number of households recorded: 8.3 million.
–The number of households with worst-case needs have increased by 66 percent since 2001, with historic increases occurring between 2007 and 2011 when mortgage foreclosures, widespread unemployment and shrinking renter incomes dramatically expanded severe housing problems.
–While incomes continued to rise between 2013 and 2015, rents increased nearly as fast. For the poorest renters, growth in rental costs outpaced income gains.
–Though the production of rental housing is strong, the rapidly growing renter population is putting increasing pressure on the rental market, particularly on the inventory of affordable rental housing.
–The number of households with worst-case needs increased across all racial and ethnic groups. The prevalence of worst case needs during 2015 was 47 percent for Hispanic renters, 45 percent for non-Hispanic White renters, 37 percent for non-Hispanic Black renters and 41 percent for others.
–Regionally, the south and western U.S. were home to most very low-income renters. These renters also had the highest prevalence of worst-case needs and the lowest likelihood of receiving housing assistance. By metropolitan type, worst-case needs were most prevalent in densely populated urban suburbs, followed by central cities.