Where Can Poor People Live?
By Ryan Velez
For some, the housing crisis sounds like something that ended back in 2008 or 2009, but for many people today, there is a rental crisis that is still ongoing, and many poor people may not have anywhere to live at all soon, according to Business Insider.
The alarming data comes from a report from Freddie Mac, which finances loans for apartment buildings. The report focused specifically on very low-income households, defined as those that earn less than 50 percent of the area median income. Depending on the region, what this threshold is could be shocking. For example, in New York City, a single renter earning $33,000 still fits under that threshold. In poorer regions, the median is lower. Nationally, apartments affordable to very low-income families dropped from 11.2 percent to 4.3 percent.
In some states, however, the drop was even more dramatic. In Colorado, apartments affordable to very low-income households fell from 32 to 8 percent; in Texas, from 10 to 3 percent; in North Carolina, from 10 to less than 1 percent. In California and Florida, there was practically no housing available to VLI households. The decline there already crept up to affect the next tier of households, low-income households.
Data from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies shows that over the longer period between 2001 and 2015, the number of severely burdened tenant households (those paying more than half their income in rent) making less than $15,000 rose from 4.9 million to 6.5 million, and the number of families making between $15,000 and $30,000 with severe rent burdens rose from 2.1 million to 3.5 million.
What exactly has gone wrong here? Well, some of these apartments are still occupied by very-low-income households—nearly 40 percent of households with incomes between $15,000 and $30,000 pay more than half their income in rent, leaving them with little to spend or save. The rest are the subject of a domino effect. They have become the homes of people with low incomes, who couldn’t afford low-income apartments bought by people with middle incomes. As a result, even though low-income apartments are needed, they’re only one piece of the puzzle. Market-rate apartments for middle-income houses are needed as well.