New York, NY - Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released its State of the Nation’s Housing 2010 report, finding room for optimism about the nation’s housing market while also revealing that recent progress is fragile and highly dependent on continued job growth.
The news, however, is not good for people with the lowest incomes. Housing affordability problems became even more pervasive in the 2000s, despite falling home prices, stagnant rents, and growing vacancies. As households lost jobs and incomes, the proportion of Americans spending more than half of their incomes on housing jumped to 16% in 2008, from 12% in 2000. Nearly a quarter of renters and one in eight owners had severe cost burdens in 2008. From 2007 to 2008 alone, the number of severely cost burdened households increased by 640,000. The number of multiple-earner families declined by 2.7 million between 2007 and 2009 as the recession took hold, and the number of households with no earners increased by 2.2 million.
The report also highlights the plight of the nation’s 4.5 million single parent households, which together contain 9.1 million children. The median percent of income that low income single-parent households spent on housing was 63%. In all these trends, young and minority people are the hardest hit.
One factor contributing to the decrease in affordability is the loss of low-cost rental properties. In the ten-year period beginning in 1997, more than one in four units that would rent for under $400 in 2007 dollars were lost, due to demolition, conversion to ownership or other uses, or increased rents. Fully 45% of these rentals were government-subsidized and the majority were outside of center cities in the South and Midwest. More than 13% were lost to demolition alone.
“The report provides fresh evidence that low income families across the United States are suffering,” said NLIHC President Sheila Crowley. “NLIHC calls on Congress to immediately fund the National Housing Trust Fund to ensure that all Americans have access to safe and affordable housing.” Legislation currently in front of Congress would provide $1.065 billion in initial funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, to help communities build, rehabilitate, and preserve housing for people with the lowest incomes. Every $1 billion provided to the Trust Fund will support the immediate construction of 10,000 rental homes, creating 15,100 new construction jobs and 3,800 new jobs in ongoing operations.
The annual State of the Nation’s Housing report summarizes and analyzes recent trends and emerging issues in the nation’s housing markets, and discusses what might be expected in the coming year. The State of the Nation’s Housing: 2010 is available at: http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.