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Bringing the Data: The Burden on Renters

January 30, 2020

Nearly half of U.S. households that rent face cost issues — especially low-income homes. Generally when rent is 30%-50% of a household’s monthly income, it’s a moderate cost burden; above that it becomes severe. That means 20 million households have trouble paying rent, and for 10 million it’s a severe burden. The chart below shows that the total percentage of renters facing a housing cost burden over time. This level rose in 2018 — the first increase in four years.

While housing affordability issues are frequently associated with large coastal cities, there are pockets of renters with severe burdens across the country. The map below shows the percent of households by county paying 50% or more of their income towards rent.

The geographical distribution can be at least partially explained by household income. The percent of households paying more than 50% of their income toward rent and earning more than $100,000 per year is nearly 0, compared to 70% for households earning under $20,000. This means the poorer the county, the greater the likelihood its renters will be facing a severe burden.

The table below highlights urban areas with at least 50,000 renters that have the largest rents burdens:


*Calculations based on U.S. Census data

Mike knows that affordable housing is an essential component of dignity and economic opportunity and is key to strengthening our urban communities. Click here to read more on Mike’s plan to make sure that a stable home is within reach of all Americans.

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