A new report finds that only 31 cheap rental units are available per 100 poor households in the U.S.

Every single county in the U.S. lacks affordable housing, and in no state can someone earning a minimum wage salary rent a two-bedroom apartment at market rate. A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition paints a fresh, grim picture of this ongoing affordable housing crisis.

Using 2014 American Community Survey data, the report’s authors calculated the number of units families earning below 30 percent of the median income in their areas could rent comfortably, without devoting more than 30 percent of their income towards housing. Their count included units that were vacant, as well as those that were occupied by households in the income bracket defined above (called “Extremely Low Income” or ELI families in the report).

Overall, the report found that only 31 such units existed for every set of 100 poor families in the U.S. And this deficit increased as families got poorer (only 17 affordable units were available per 100 families in the bottom 15 percent, for example)—and turned into a surplus for those at the higher end of the income ladder.

These findings reveal “an alarming reality about housing for extremely low income households,” Andrew Aurand, vice president research at NLIHC said in press release. “Millions of people in America are living in unaffordable rental homes. They are forced to cut their spending on food, transportation, and health to pay rent.”

But the national deficit—appalling as it is—masks even more dire housing gaps in several states. To help visualize each state’s shortfall, the NLIHC has created this map:

In total, 20 states fared worse than the national average. Nevada offered the fewest units at 17 for every batch of 100 extremely low income households. Alaska, California, and Florida followed with 21/100 units, and then came Florida and Oregon with 22/100. Among metros, Orlando and Las Vegas were at the bottom, each offering only 15 affordable units. Overall, no state contained more than 64 units per 100 poor families, and no metro had more than 46.

One straightforward fix for this problem would be to create more affordable housing to meet the incredible demand. And as my colleague Kriston Capps has written, there’s a moral and economic argument in favor of that option. The folks at NLIHC also highlight some economic benefits in the report’s conclusion:

Expanding the supply of affordable rental housing allows [Extremely Low Income] households to move out of their unaffordable housing, making these units available to other income groups. Simply put, federal housing policy that targets the most critical housing needs will produce net benefits for everyone.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  2. a photo of a BYD-built electric bus.
    Transportation

    A Car-Centric City Makes a Bid for a Better Bus System

    Indianapolis is set to unveil a potentially transformative all-electric bus rapid transit line, along with a host of major public transportation upgrades.

  3. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

  4. a photo of a tiny house in Oregon
    Design

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  5. Transportation

    When a Transit Agency Becomes a Suburban Developer

    The largest transit agency in the U.S. is building a mixed-use development next to a commuter rail station north of Manhattan.

×