Affordable Housing – Minding The Gap

Rental Real Estate Sign in Front of houseThe Gap: The Affordable Housing Gap Analysis 2016, a report released recently by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), paints a bleak picture of the nation’s growing affordable housing crisis. The reports finds that there is a shortage of 7.2 million affordable and available rental units for America’s 10.4 million extremely low income (ELI) renter households, those in the bottom 30 percent of income in their communities.

Seventy-five percent of ELI renter households spend more than half of their income for housing, leaving them without enough money for food, medicine, child care, transportation, and other basic necessities, much less a cushion for emergencies. They are at high risk of frequent moves, eviction, and homelessness. NLIHC calls for greater federal investment in the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and other housing programs to close this ever widening gap.

The Gap provides data about the shortage of affordable and available housing for ELI renter households in each of the states, the District of Columbia and the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

The report, based on 2014 American Community Survey data, finds that nationally there are only 31 affordable and available rental units for every 100 ELI households. The 10.4 million ELI renter households accounted for 24 percent of all renter households in the U.S. For the 4.1 million deeply low income (DLI) renter households, those with incomes in the bottom 15 percent in their communities, there are only 17 affordable and available rental units per 100 households.

Twenty states have fewer than the national average of 31 affordable and available units per every 100 ELI households. Nevada has the fewest affordable and available rental units, with just 17 per every 100 ELI households. Other states with the greatest shortfalls include Alaska (21/100), California (21/100), Arizona (21/100), Florida (22/100) and Oregon (22/100). No state has more than 64 affordable and available rental units for every 100 ELI renter households.

The states with the greatest percentage of ELI renters spending more than half of their income on housing are Nevada (85 percent), Florida (84 percent), Georgia (81 percent), Oregon (81 percent), and Arizona (81 percent). In every state in the country, at least half of ELI renters spend more than half of their income on housing.

Among the nation’s largest 100 metropolitan areas, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. have the lowest number of rental units affordable and available to ELI renter households, with just 15 units per 100 households. No metropolitan area has more than 46 affordable and available units per 100 ELI households.

“The Gap reveals an alarming reality about housing for extremely low income households,” says Dr. Andrew Aurand, Vice President Research at NLIHC. “What is frustrating is the lack of timely action to address the issue. Millions of people in America are living in unaffordable rental homes. They are forced to cut their spending on food, transportation and health to pay rent.”

Dr. Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of NLIHC, urges the federal government to substantially increase funding for the NHTF to address the shortfall. “The National Housing Trust Fund,” says Dr. Crowley, “was explicitly created to address the most critical housing needs in our country, housing affordable to those with the lowest incomes. We can end homelessness and housing poverty in America without adding a penny to the federal deficit through the United for Homes campaign. All we need is the will.”

NLIHC leads the United for Homes campaign that is endorsed by more than 2,300 organizations and elected officials nationwide. The campaign calls for modifying the mortgage interest deduction by reducing the portion of a mortgage that is eligible for a tax break from the current $1 million to $500,000 and by converting the deduction to a 15 percent non-refundable tax credit. These two changes would result in savings of more than $200 billion over ten years that the campaign calls for investing into the National Housing Trust Fund.

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