Lack of Affordable Homes for Low Income Renters



Low income families are struggling to find affordable rental properties in the US today, as a recently published report points out that for every 100 families in this bracket, only 30 suitable units exist in which to house them.

low income renters

The NHLIHC is worried that low income families could be forced onto the streets © margaretwallace - Fotolia.com

The new study, released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NHLIHC), noted that there has been a significant growth in the number of ‘extremely low income renters’ in recent years – meaning those families that earn less than 30% of the median average income for their metro area.

By the end of 2010, the number of extremely low income renters had swollen to some 9.8 million persons, accounting for almost one quarter of all renters in the country, said the Wall Street Journal in its blog last week.

Sheila Crowley, chief executive of the NHLIHC, said that rising rents were at the crux of the problem.

“What we’re seeing is a decline in home ownership levels, while the rents in many areas are slowly being pushed up,” she noted. As a result, Crowley explained that many low income people are finding themselves unable to afford suitable housing where they live.

The lack of suitable accommodation for renters is particularly evident in those parts of the country that have the biggest disparity between rich and poor – notably California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Michigan and Utah, reported the NHLIHC study.

The problem has not gone unnoticed by authorities, with Becky Koepnick, chief advisor to HUD secretary Shaun Donovan commenting that “there’s no doubt that there is a significant gap.”

According to the NLIHC, the government needs to step up efforts to help low income renters find affordable housing, whether that’s through housing voucher programs, rental assistance or some other initiative. They fear that unless action is taken, many of these families could be forced into ‘doubling-up’ with friends and relatives, or else end up homeless.

The NLIHC called for more funding to be given to the HUD’s National Housing Trust Fund, a program that was set up in 2008 to create more low-income housing units.