Housing Affordability Improves, But Households Still Struggle

On Feb. 19, the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy released its annual Housing Landscape report entitled, "The Housing Affordability Challenges of America’s Working Households."

The report examines the housing affordability challenges of low- and moderate-income working households. It found that overall, there were fewer severely cost-burdened low- and moderate-income working households—households that spend more than half their income on housing—in 2012 than at the end of the Great Recession in 2009. After peaking at 26.4 percent in 2011, the share of severely burdened low- and moderate-income renters fell to 25.4 percent. However, this is still above 2009 levels, when 24.5 percent of low- and moderate-income renters had a severe housing cost burden.

The report also found that the lowest income households face the greatest housing cost burdens; eight in 10 extremely low-income households had severe housing cost burdens in 2012. Severely housing cost-burdened households are stretched thin, and many face impossible choices like cutting back on other essentials such as food and health care in order to make ends meet. While 2012 offered a better affordability picture for working households than previous years, more than one in four low- and moderate-income working renters, and nearly one in five low- and moderate-income working owners is still severely burdened by housing costs.