The Affordable Housing Shortage Is Critical in Every State

A new report reveals that millions of the nation’s poor need housing.
The skyline of San Francisco. (Photo: Kristine T. Pham Photography/Getty Images)
Mar 30, 2016· 1 MIN READ
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

While high-rise apartments, $100 million houses, and luxury condos continue to pop up in major metropolises all over the United States, millions of poor Americans are living in housing that they can’t afford. The National Low Income Housing Coalition states that about three-quarters of those individuals are spending more than half their incomes on rent and utilities, a much greater share than what experts say should go to housing to ensure financial stability. People generally shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to Fortune.

The report says that the problem stems from a drastic shortage of cheap and available rental units for extremely poor renters across all cities.

Researchers claim that nationwide just 31 affordable rental units are available for every 100 extremely low-income households, with 20 states having even fewer available spaces. Nevada has the least amount of affordable rental units available for low-income residents, with only 17 rentals for every 100 extremely poor households. Other states with scarce housing options for low-income tenants include Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, and Oregon.

When so much of their income goes toward rent, those with low incomes face the possibility of homelessness if an unexpected health expense or job loss, or even something as basic as car repairs, busts their budget for the month.

With more than 10 million extremely low-income households in the nation, about 7.2 million affordable and available rentals will have to be created to meet the needs of these renters, NLIHC asserts. It also identified a need for an additional 400,000 units for the homeless and said greater investment in the National Housing Trust Fund, dedicated to providing housing for those with low incomes, and other housing programs will be necessary to expand the existing supply. The report suggests a few other ways to bridge the housing gap, such as expanding Small Area Fair Market Rents by handing out tenant-based vouchers. This way, residents will only have to contribute 30 percent of their income while the voucher pays for the rest based on local housing-authority standards.