From The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/affordable-rental-housing-scarce-in-us-study-finds/2011/04/25/AFcBjilE_story.html
By Dina ElBoghdady,
Tuesday, April 26
The share of renters who spend more than half their income on housing is at its highest level in half a century and it’s no longer just low-income tenants who are feeling the pain, according to a Harvard University study scheduled for release Tuesday.
About 26 percent of renters — or 10.1 million people — spent more than half their pre-tax household income on rent and utilities in 2009. That’s because incomes slipped dramatically from their peak at the start of the decade even as rents kept rising.
The study offers the latest in a series of grim statistics about the scarcity of rental housing, especially for the working poor. The supply has not kept up with demand in part because of a shortage of apartments, a key source of new rentals. Developers cut back on such projects when the economy deteriorated in 2009, which drove down vacancies and boosted rents. Analysts say they expect rents to keep climbing as developers try to ramp up new projects and catch up with demand.
In many areas, the demand is driven by families who lost their homes to foreclosure during the housing bust and ended up searching for rentals. Meanwhile, as the job market recovers, more newly employed young adults appear to be seeking their own apartments instead of living with their parents, putting even more upward pressure on rental rates, according to one of the study’s researchers.
Ideally, renters should not spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the study said. Low-income tenants have struggled during the past decade to stay within that limit. And increasingly so have renters with moderate incomes, defined as making between two and three times the minimum wage. By 2009, 7.5 percent of moderate-income renters spent more than half their income on rent, twice as many as in 2001.
Continue reading at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/affordable-rental-housing-scarce-in-us-study-finds/2011/04/25/AFcBjilE_story.html