For Immediate Release
Need for New Affordable Housing Urgent as New Report Points to Bleak Market for Low Income Renters
NEW YORK - Rental vacancy rates are declining, rents are increasing, and low cost rental units are disappearing from the nation’s housing stock. These are among the findings of The State of the Nation’s Housing: 2011, a report of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released here today.
The annual State of the Nation’s Housing report summarizes and analyzes recent trends and emerging issues in the nation’s rental and homeownership housing markets, and discusses what might be expected in the coming year.
This year’s report shows that between 2003 and 2009, the number of renters with very low incomes (below 50% of area median) jumped from 16.3 million to 18.0 million. Meanwhile, the number of housing units that were affordable to households at that level, in adequate condition and not occupied by higher income renters, fell from 12.0 million to 11.6 million. The affordable housing shortage for this group thus widened sharply from 4.3 million to 6.4 million units.
At the same time, despite the net addition of 2.6 million rentals to the nation’s housing stock, the number of units with rents of $400 or less in 2009 inflation-adjusted dollars fell from 6.2 in 1999 to 5.6 million in 2009. By 2009, nearly 12 percent of the low-cost rentals that existed in 1999 had been lost—twice the share lost among units renting for $400-799, and four times the share lost among units renting for $800 or more. Many of the low-cost rental units that remain are in older, distressed buildings.
Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, was among those speaking at the press event at which the report was to be released. Ms. Crowley noted that the dire housing situation for low income people the report highlights presents the federal government with an opportunity to act.
“If only every Member of Congress would take the time to read this report, perhaps some would rethink the reckless insistence that the federal budget deficit be solved with cuts in spending only. This report reinforces the position that programs that help low income Americans, including low income housing assistance, should be off the table in deficit reduction negotiations. Moreover, increased investment in the production and rehabilitation of housing that is affordable for low income families would relieve the shortage of affordable homes and put millions of homebuilders back to work,” said Ms. Crowley in prepared remarks.
NLIHC, with a coalition of over 5,500 organizations from around the country, supports funding for the National Housing Trust Fund as the solution to the severe housing challenges outlined in the JCHS report.
The State of the Nation’s Housing: 2011 is embargoed until 11 am June 6, and will be available at: http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/
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.