Affordable Housing Primer

July 16, 2020

Access to safe and affordable housing is a foundational component of any society. Each and every day, thousands of families are on the search for a suitable place to live. It may be a small urban apartment, a midsized suburban tract home, or a rural ‘McMansion’, but every searcher is looking for a place to call home and to find rest from the stresses of everyday life without becoming burdened with cost.

THE PROBLEM – In America, however, this search has been and will continue to be challenging for a large percentage of the population due to a lack of housing that is affordable. Over the last nearly 60 years the median annual rent paid in the United States has increased by more than 61% on an inflation-adjusted basis. In stark comparison, the median income for renters has increased by a mere 5%. As a result of this dynamic as well as a myriad of others, nearly 50% of all renters in the United States are deemed to be ‘cost-burdened’, having spent more than 30% of their income on housing (renters account for ~40% of all US households). Compare this to just 24% of renters who fell into this category in the 1960s, and it’s clear that the situation is progressively worsening. [1] Perhaps even more striking, 11 million American households – approximately 1 in 10 – spend more than 50% of their income on rent, which means little cash left to spend on other essentials like food, clothing, education, and healthcare. [2] …

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[1] Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. (2018). The State of the Nation’s Housing 2018.  (Page 5)
[2] The State of the Nation’s Housing 2018. (Page 30)

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