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ARTICLES & INSIGHTS

Nearly half of all renters nationwide can't afford rent. How did we get here?



The Unaffordable Housing Crisis

Nearly half of all renters can't afford rent, and over half a million Americans are homeless on any given night.

The number of households with “worst-case housing needs” – that is, households with very low incomes that either pay more than half their income for rent or live in severely substandard housing, and receive no aid – has risen by 66% since 2001 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2017).

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"People of color are more likely than white people to be extremely low-income renters. Twenty percent of Black households, 17% of American Indian or Alaska Native households, 15% of Hispanic households, and 10% of Asian households are extremely low-income renters. Only 6% of white non-Hispanic households are extremely low-income renters.” (NLIHC, 2020).

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A lack of affordable housing drives homelessness. People become homeless when they cannot afford a place to live. Because of a history of discrimination, people of color are most acutely impacted by the housing affordability crisis and therefore make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population. For example, African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population despite only representing 13% of the general population. (NAEH, 2020).

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“While the private market has never been able to produce an adequate supply of homes for extremely low-income households, the growth of low-wage work exacerbates the problem. Seven of the ten occupations projected to experience the greatest growth over the next decade provide median hourly wages that are insufficient for full-time workers to afford modest apartments.” (NLIHC, 2020).

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