HUD Reports Worst Case Housing Needs Increased in 2015

Yesterday, HUD released the sixteenth edition of the Worst Case Housing Needs: 2017 Report to Congress which finds that in 2015 there were 8.3 million unassisted very low-income households in the U.S. that were experiencing “worst case housing” by spending more than half of their income on rent, living in severely substandard housing conditions, or both. “Very low-income households” are those earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI). Overall, the number of households with worst case needs have increased by 41 percent since 2007 and by 8 percent since 2013.

A few highlights of the report include the following:

  • Worst case needs in 2015 was 8 percent higher than in 2013, offsetting much of the 9-percent decrease observed during the 2011-to-2013 period.
  • Between 2013 and 2013 there were 580,000 new cases of worst case needs, of which about 70 percent (402,000) was attributable to demographic changes that grew the number of unassisted very low-income renters by 700,000 households, and about 30 percent was attributable to inadequate housing market responses to the increased share of worst case needs among the very low-income renter population.
  • Even with rent subsidies, 6 of 10 extremely low-income renters (earning up to 30 percent of AMI) and 4 of 10 very low-income renters do not have access to affordable and available housing units.
  • The number of households with worst case needs increased across all racial and ethnic groups and increased among all types of households. In 2015, there were 2.9 million families with children and 1.9 million elderly households experiencing worst case needs.

While the nation continues its economic recovery that have provided some benefits for the incomes of very low-income renters, demographic and housing market factors continue to place severe housing problems onto this population, which include the growing competition over a limited affordable housing stock; growing share of renter households (and decline in home owners); a widening rental assistance gap; and rising rents.

In a HUD press release , Secretary Ben Carson continues to encourage the private market and others to help solve the affordable rental housing crisis, pointing to a “more business-like approach on how the public sector can reduce the regulatory barriers so that the private markets can produce more housing.” One way that the Trump Administration will try to bolster the affordable housing stock is through housing finance reform and seeking to unwind the Federal government’s role in the private mortgage market.

This 2017 HUD report points to worst case housing needs as a “national problem” at a time when the Administration has proposed devastating cuts to many of HUD’s programs that support the housing needs of vulnerable families. These cuts have been swiftly opposed by NAHRO and industry partners, and largely rejected by Congress.

This post was edited on August 11, 2017 to state that the overall number of households with worst case needs have increased by 8 percent since 2013, not 7 percent.

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