More Americans Spending More Than Half Their Income on Rent
Recently, Enterprise Community Partners and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) released a white paper entitled “Projecting Trends in Severely Cost-Burdened Renters: 2015-2025.” Rent is considered “affordable” if it totals 30 percent or less of one’s income. Renters who spend between 30 percent and 50 percent of their income on rent are considered “moderately” rent-burdened. Renters who spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent are considered “severely” rent-burdened.
Using U.S. Census data and Harvard’s household growth projections, this white paper shows that the number of households spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent is expected to rise at least 11 percent from 11.8 million to 13.1 million by 2025, up from 11.8 million in 2015. But if current trends continue, where rent gains outpace income growth, the number could reach as many as 14.8 million households by 2025, a more than 25 percent increase from 2015.
The report projects a growing renter affordability crisis, with the largest increases expected among older adults, Hispanics, and single-person households. The findings suggest that even if trends in incomes and rents turn more favorable, a variety of demographic forces—including the rapid growth of minority and senior populations—will exert continued upward pressure on the number of severely cost-burdened renters.