HUD Finds Dramatic Increase in Worst Case Housing Needs

In a recent report made to Congress entitled "Worst Case Housing Needs 2011: Report to Congress," HUD reported dramatic increases in worst case housing needs during the 2009 to 2011 period that cut across demographic groups, household types, and regions. This rise in hardship among renters was due to substantial increases in rental housing demand and weakening incomes that increase competition for already scarce affordable units.

Given the severely challenged economic conditions that the United States confronted during this period, particularly surrounding the housing market, it’s not surprising that the need for housing assistance continues to outpace the ability of federal, state, and local governments to supply it. The worsening situation for the nation’s 19.3 million very low-income renters clearly reflects the severe economic dislocation of the recession and the associated collapse of the housing market, which reduced homeownership through foreclosures and increased demand for rental housing.

The report concludes that the scale of the problem requires major strategic decisions. As worst case housing needs continue to increase and the level of housing assistance remains relatively flat, the gap between the number of assisted units and the number of households with severe housing needs has never been wider. There are approximately two very low-income households with worst case needs for every very low-income household with rental assistance.

The report also points out that a broad strategy is to continue to rebuild the economy and provide assistance to those families most in need. While the nation’s economic woes affected everyone, those with very low incomes were least able to weather its effects.