The number of lower income households struggling to pay their monthly rent, as well as those who may also be living in substandard housing, continued to grow between 2009 and 2011, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
In 2011, HUD reports that nearly 8.5 million lower income families paid more than half their monthly income for rent, lived in severely substandard housing, or both. Based on data from HUD's 2011 American Housing Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau between May and September of 2011, the number of these ‘worst case housing needs’ continued to grow from the previous record high in 2009 (7.1 million households) by a striking 43.5% since 2007.
‘These sobering numbers remind us that as we work to craft a balanced approach to our budget and priorities, we can't lose sight of those who may be teetering on the brink of homelessness,’ says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. ‘Clearly, the economic downturn that we're recovering from put tremendous stress on lower income families who continue to be crowded out of the affordable housing marketplace.’
HUD's ‘Worst Case Housing Needs 2011: A Summary Report to Congress’ found that every racial and ethnic group experienced increases in worst case housing needs during 2009 to 2011, with Hispanic and non-Hispanic white households having the largest increase. As a result, 48% of new cases of worst-case needs were white, 28% were Hispanic and 13% were African-American households.
The number of ‘worst case’ renter households increased primarily because a substantial number of homeowners became renters as a result of economic and housing market conditions such as unemployment and foreclosures. Higher income families increasingly competed for a limited number of affordable rental units, further driving down already-low vacancy rates for the lowest rent units.