On February 1, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a 66-page report entitled ‘‘Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: Report To Congress,” addressing the housing needs of low income Americans.
Renters with “worst case housing needs” are defined as low-income households who do not receive government housing assistance and “who paid more than half their monthly income for rent, lived in severely substandard housing, or both.” The report reveals that the number of renters experiencing worst case needs in 2009 were 7.1 million, a 20% increase from 2007. Since 2001, this number has increased by approximately 42%. According to HUD’s report, these worst case housing needs can be linked to three factors:
- Renter income losses: the economic crisis has left many renters unemployed, forcing them into the the worst case needs category.
- Rental assistance gap: there is a lack of affordable rental housing compared to the increasing population of very low-income renters.
- Competition for affordable units: increased competition for affordable rental housing units from higher income families due to the mortgage crisis.
The report found that worst case needs affected all racial and ethnic groups, with Hispanic households showing the largest increase in incidence. Households with worst case needs mainly included those with children, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.
The report’s findings are based on data from the American Housing Survey (AHS) between May and September of 2009, which is conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Census Bureau.