June 20, 2017 Rental Trends ·

Harvard’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2017 Report Highlights Severity of the Rental Affordability Crisis

Originally published by Make Room

Washington, D.C. –  Harvard’s annual report underscores the continuing trend of growing rents and diminishing supply of affordable homes for renters.

For Immediate Release
June 20, 2017
Contact: Sarah Kaufman

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2017 report, released today by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, puts in sharp focus the dimensions of America’s rental affordability crisis. While the single-family homeownership market appears to be stabilizing, millions of renters continue to struggle with unsustainable housing costs. In fact, at 21 million, the number of cost-burdened renters significantly outstrips the number of cost-burdened owners (18 million), even though nearly two-thirds of U.S. households own their homes.

“The Joint Center’s report reminds us that rental affordability is the critical issue in housing today,” said Ali Solis, President and CEO of Make Room. “Millions of low-income families are stretched to the limit, just one missed rent payment away from eviction.”

According to the report:

  • More than 11 million renter households are “severely” burdened by housing costs, paying more than 50 percent of their income just on rent and utilities.
  • The number of severely-burdened renter households increased by 3.7 million from 2001 to 2015.
  • In 2016, the national rental vacancy rate hit a 30-year low. Rent increases continue to outpace inflation in most local housing markets. In fact, there has been a 32-percent increase in real median asking rents since 2000.
  • There is an expanding mismatch between the rental stock and the growing demand for rental homes from low- and moderate-income households. The total number of units renting for less than $800 declined by over 260,000 from 2005 to 2015, while the overall rental stock increased by more than 6.7 million units.

Added Solis: “The home is the very foundation of our society, playing a central role in promoting family security and national prosperity. At a time when so many Americans are struggling to pay the rent, Congress and the Administration should be working together on sustainable solutions. Expanding access to affordable rental housing should be at the center of ongoing discussions over appropriations, tax reform, regulatory reform, and infrastructure. The federal government needs to step up.”

Rental demand is expected to intensify over the next decade as millions of Millennials form households for the first time and Baby Boomers seek to downsize into rental homes.

Make Room, a non-profit organization, seeks to give a voice to struggling renters and elevate rental housing on the agendas of our nation’s leaders.

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