Millions of people nationwide struggle to pay their rent, and in many places only the privileged can afford to buy a home.
When housing costs eat up most of a person’s paycheck, they often have to make sacrifices, foregoing healthcare, education, and sometimes even food.
The nation’s lack of affordable housing perpetuates cycles of poverty and keeps millions from living to their full potential.
In honor of Poverty Awareness Month, we present these five facts about the affordable housing crisis.
1. 1 in 4 renters pay half their income on rent.
One in four renters, or 11.2 million households, were “severely burdened by rents that took up over half their incomes,” according to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
When housing costs are this high, saving for a rainy day becomes impossible. People are forced to live paycheck to paycheck, hoping that an unexpected medical emergency doesn’t arise, hoping that their car doesn’t suddenly break down.
2. Only 28 of every 100 extremely low-income renter households in the U.S. are able to find decent, affordable homes.
This depressing statistic is from 2013, the most recent year data is available. In 2000, there were 37 apartments for every 100 extremely low-income households.
This depressing statistic also shows that there is a desperate need for more investment in affordable housing, not less.
3. About half of poor rural Americans have housing expenses that are more than half of their incomes.
Cities aren’t the only places where it’s difficult to find affordable housing; people living in rural areas struggle as well. The rural poverty rate is 17.7 percent, three percent higher than in urban areas, and incomes are 20 percent lower than the national median income. And it doesn’t look like the situation is going to get better any time soon. Funding for these areas has been cut by 75 percent over the past 40 years, Bob Rapoza, Executive Secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition, told Curbed Magazine.
4. Rents in Seattle, Washington are projected to increase by 7.2% in 2017.
In 2013, rents in Seattle grew 3.9%. Seattle has the hottest rental market, followed by Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado. Find out if your city is on the top ten list here.
5. The number of poor households has risen steadily over the past 30 years, but the number of households getting rental assistance has remained the same.
The situation is made worse by the fact that federal funding for rental apartments hasn’t increased in the past 15 years.