September 20, 2019
The United States has more rental units than ever, but an increasingly fewer amount of them are available at low cost, leading to more cost-burdened renters than ever.
New research from the Joint Center for Housing Studies documents the decline of low-cost rental units over the last three decades, and its impact on low-income renters.
“Although the overall rental stock grew by 10.9 million units between 1990 and 2017, the number of units renting for less than $600 per month (in constant 2017 dollars) fell by nearly four million,” according to an article by Alexander Hermann.
The data also showed that the decline was concentrated in the last five years. After slower declines in the 1990s and early 2000s, the stock of low-cost units rose in the aftermath of the recession. But since 2012, the number of units renting for under $600 has fallen sharply. Hermann said it has accounted for a large share of the decline in low-cost units over time.
The white paper was written by Hermann and co-authors Elizabeth La Jeunesse, Daniel McCue, and Jonathan Spader. It includes analysis of the geographic distinctions in the decline of low-cost rental housing, as well as the impact of the decline on low-income, cost-burdened renters.
Further findings of the report showed that the size, rent level and time of losses differed by state. In higher-cost states, the number of units renting for under $600 was already low by 1990. But, in those states, there were sharp declines in the number of units renting for less than $800 or $1000 per month.
In California for example, while the number of units renting for under $600 declined by 204,000, the number of units renting for under $1,000 declined by 413,000 units.
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