Cost Problem for Grandparent-Headed Households
A 2008 HUD report to Congress on intergenerational housing needs found that about 50 percent of very low-income, grandparent-headed, renter households paid more than half their income for housing. HUD defines an “intergenerational household” as a family receiving (or “covered by”) housing rental assistance, with a family member or other relative who is 62 years of age or older and who is raising a child.
HUD's report is the result of a congressional fact-finding mission to determine the number of households requiring rental assistance, or coverage, as well as their housing needs. The Living Equitably: Grandparents Aiding Children and Youth Act of 2003 (LEGACY Act of 2003) mandated that HUD provide this information.
The report gives details in the following categories:
Number of assisted households. HUD's report is based on data provided in the 2000 Census and American Housing Survey. The report shows that 1.6 million households headed by a grandparent raising a grandchild exist nationwide. All these households are eligible for assistance under the act.
Very low-income, grandparent-headed households. HUD's report shows that there are 310,000 very low-income, grandparent-headed households nationwide and that about 52 percent of them were suffering a “housing cost burden,” meaning that they were spending more than half of their income on rent. And the study shows that over 48 percent of that number consist of households living in severely inadequate housing.
Furthermore, the study shows that about 30 percent of such households were receiving rental assistance from the government.
Extremely low-income, grandparent-headed households. The report also shows that 164,000 extremely low-income, grand-parent-headed households are residing in rental units nationwide. Of that number, almost 75 percent paid more than half their income for rent.
Very low-income, other relative-headed households. The report reveals there are 280,000 very low-income renter households headed by a relative raising a child (that is, the child was not being raised by the biological parent). Of that number, about 44 percent were spending more than half their income on rent. Furthermore, the study shows that over 36 percent of such households receive federal rental assistance, and that 29 percent of such households receive government rental assistance.
Extremely low-income, other relative-headed households. According to the report, 152,000 extremely low-income, other relative-headed households are residing in rentals nationwide. Of that number, 61 percent were paying more than half their income for rent. And the study shows that about 42 percent of such households receive federal rental subsidies.
HUD's report indicates that Section 8 funds could be used to meet the housing needs of grandparent-headed and other relative-headed households. The report proposes that additional funds be provided for them through Section 8 vouchers, which would be made available specifically for these types of households.
Funding the needs of these households through Section 8 vouchers would be possible because “there is nothing in…the regulations that would prohibit their use to provide greater assistance to intergenerational households in communities where the need is identified as particularly great,” the HUD report states.
The report indicates that application of funds for Section 202 and 811 programs for such purposes “poses challenges” as a result of the limited number of units containing more than one bedroom. “New projects containing two or more bedroom units would have to be developed,” the report concludes.
To obtain a copy of the report, log on to HUD's Web site at http://www.huduser.org, go to the “What's new” section, and scroll down to find “Intergenerational Housing Needs and HUD Program Options: Report to Congress.”