The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Taylor Materio (202) 662-1530

Shortage of Housing for Lowest Income Families Grew Significantly Between 2007 and 2008, New Data Show

NLIHC calls on Congress, Administration to address shortage through National Housing Trust Fund


The shortage of housing that is affordable for the lowest income
families grew significantly between 2007 and 2008, according to an analysis of
2008 American Community Survey data done by the National Low Income Housing
Coalition (NLIHC). In 2007, the shortage of homes affordable for
extremely low income renter households (those earning 30% or less of their area
median income) was 2.7 million. The shortage grew to 3.1 million homes in 2008.

This longstanding deficit of rental homes that are affordable for the
poorest households is getting worse because the number of extremely low income
households is increasing, while the number of rental homes they can afford
dwindles. ACS data show that the number of all renter households in the United
States increased by 2.4% between 2007 and 2008, but the number of extremely low
income renter households increased by 3.5%. During the same period, the supply
of all rental homes increased by 2.2%, but the supply of rental homes
affordable for extremely low income families decreased by 1.8%. Households with
extremely low incomes continue to be the only income group facing an absolute shortage
of affordable rental housing.

Looking at the number of rental homes that are both affordable and
available to the lowest income households, the picture is even worse. (Many of
the homes that extremely low income families could afford are occupied by
higher income people.) For every 100 extremely low income renter households,
there were 39 rental housing units affordable and available for them in 2007.
By 2008, the number of affordable and available units had declined to 37. A
scarcity of housing that the poorest families can afford is the principle cause
of homelessness in the United

The shortage will likely be worse for 2009 and 2010. The increase in
unemployment and resulting loss of household income that has occurred between
2008 and 2009 means even more households are competing for fewer homes renting
at prices they can afford. This shortage will persist despite the excess supply
in the overall housing market caused by the foreclosure crisis and the

"In the array of subsidies and bailouts that Congress and the
Administration have given out in an attempt to repair the economy in the last
year, more than $1.1 trillion has gone to the housing sector through
foreclosure mitigation programs, tax credits for homebuyers, and cash infusions
to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Not one dollar has been devoted just to addressing
the shortage of rental housing for extremely low income families," NLIHC
President Sheila Crowley said.
"This is unconscionable neglect. Congress cannot claim that we cannot
afford to build more affordable rental housing, when they just this month put
another $11.8 billion into subsidizing homebuyers with incomes of up to

Low income housing and homeless advocates are calling on Congress to
put at least $1 billion in the National Housing Trust Fund before the end of
the year. This will support the immediate construction of 10,000 rental homes,
creating 15,100 new construction jobs and 3,800 new jobs in ongoing operations.
Further, the new jobs bill that Congress is now developing should include
another $15 billion for low income rental housing construction and
rehabilitation through the National Housing Trust Fund in 2010. An additional
$15 billion would create another 283,500 jobs.

The National Housing Trust Fund was established in 2008, but has yet to
be funded. Three quarters of the homes produced with National Housing Trust
Fund dollars must be affordable to extremely low income households.

NLIHC has analyzed Public Use Micro Sample data from the 2007 and 2008
American Community Surveys. The American Community Survey (ACS) is an annual
survey of approximately 3 million households that provides recent information
on the characteristics of Americans and their housing. Data are published in
the fall the year after they have been collected. The ACS will an integral part
of the 2010 Census. For more information about the American Community Survey,

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.