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HUD Report Shows Unprecedented Increase in Need for Housing Aid
WASHINGTON - February 2 - HUD's biannual report to Congress on the housing needs of low income Americans shows that a record number of very low income households have severe housing problems, particularly housing costs that far exceed what they can afford to pay. The National Low Income Housing Coalition calls on Congress and the Administration to heed the findings of the Worst Case Housing Needs 2009 report and spare federal housing aid programs from the budget cuts that many are threatening.
HUD "finds dramatic increases in worst case housing needs that cut across demographic groups, household types, and regions," according to the report. The report measures both the incidence of people severely burdened by the cost of their rents, and the incidence of people living in severely inadequate housing.
Increases in these two types of housing need have occurred just as many in Congress have suggested that the path to the nation's economic sustainability is through cuts to safety net programs like affordable housing. Sheila Crowley, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition said, "Cuts to the programs in existence today would cause increases in many of the other indicators of need tracked by HUD, such as the rising rate of homelessness in the US. These data show that the imperative should be to expand and improve low income housing programs."
Directing more resources to solve the housing problems of the lowest income families will in fact create more jobs in construction, a sector that has a 20% rate of unemployment, over twice the overall rate of 9.4%. The National Housing Trust Fund, which was established in 2008 but has not yet been funded, is an infrastructure program that will reduce the shortage of quality affordable rental homes, create thousands of jobs, and bring immediate gains to national, state and local economies, all without adding to the national debt.
In Worst Case Housing Needs, HUD reports the following:
- In 2009 there were 7.1 million worst case needs households in the US, up significantly from 5.9 million just two years prior;
- Only 32 units of adequate, affordable rental housing are available for every 100 extremely low income renters;
- The supply of adequate housing available to low income people is most scarce in the West;
- The South has the highest number of cost-burdened renters of any region of the country; and
- Fewer than one in four very low income renters currently receives housing assistance.
HUD finds the increase in worst case housing need to be linked to three contributing factors: Shrinking incomes of renters, the need for housing assistance far outpacing the increase in the availability of such assistance, and increased competition for a shrinking pool of adequate, affordable rental units.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition calls for full funding of the National Housing Trust Fund at $15 billion a year for 10 years, doubling the number of housing vouchers, and preserving all existing federally assisted housing units.
The report can be found online at http://www.huduser.org/portal/