For Immediate Release
As Predicted, Recession Increases Deep Poverty
NLIHC Calls on Congress to Fund Additional Housing Vouchers to Stem Increased Risk of Homelessness
released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, 39.8 million people lived in poverty
in 2008, a one-year increase of 2.6 million people and 6.85%.
Even more troubling was the rise in the number of people in deep
poverty. Those in households earning less than half of the federal poverty
threshold rose by 7.69%, or 1.2 million people, to more than 17.0 million
The increase in the poverty rate, especially deep poverty, gives a new
urgency to the need for a substantial increase in federal housing assistance.
People in deep poverty are at high risk of homelessness; methodology developed
by the National Alliance to End Homelessness shows that an increase of this
magnitude translates to potentially 123,000 to 269,000 more people becoming
"Coupled with the continued increase in unemployment, these new
poverty numbers show how severely the recession is hitting the lowest income
people in our country," NLIHC President Sheila Crowley said. "These
new data support the concern of housing advocates that the current recession
will cause a surge in homelessness similar to that seen in the recession of the
early 1980s. Preventing such a growth in homelessness should be a top priority
of the Obama Administration."
Earlier this year, more than 1,000 national, state, and local
organizations called for funding for 400,000 new housing vouchers over a
two-year period as part of the economic recovery bill. In an open letter to
Congress and the Administration, organizations said that "as the
Administration and Congress consider action to stem housing foreclosures and to
reform the housing finance system, equal attention must be paid to the
long-standing and unmet need for decent, affordable homes for households with
the lowest incomes. Despite the surplus of single family homes for sale today,
the shortage of rental homes that extremely low income households can afford
continues unabated." (www.nlihc.org; click on What We Mean By
Earlier analyses by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities foresaw
deep poverty increasing by a range of 5.3 million to 6.3 million people by the
fourth quarter of 2009, based on a projected end-of-the-year unemployment rate
of 9%. Today, the unemployment rate for August, in the third quarter of 2009,
has reached 9.7%. The numbers released today are clearly just the beginning of
the trend toward deeper poverty that has continued to play itself out in 2009.
Overall, the nation's official poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2%, up
from 12.5% in 2007.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.