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Research: Low-Cost Rental Housing Disappears While Rental Stock Grows

There are more rental units in the United States than ever, but fewer of them are available at low cost, so there are more cost-burdened renters than ever, according to new research.
September 18, 2019, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Francesca Cappa

A new working paper from researchers at the Joint Center for Housing Studies documents the decline of low-cost rental units over the past three decades and its impact on low-income renters.

"Although the overall rental stock grew by 10.9 million units between 1990 and 2017, the number of units renting for less than $600 per month (in constant 2017 dollars) fell by nearly 4.0 million," according to an article by Alexander Hermann.

"The data also show that this decline was concentrated in the last five years. After falling modestly in the 1990s and early 2000s, the stock of low-cost units rose in the aftermath of the recession. Since 2012, however, the number of units renting for under $600 has fallen sharply, accounting for a large share of the decline in low-cost units over the long run."

The white paper—written by Hermann and co-authors Elizabeth La Jeunesse, Daniel McCue, and Jonathan Spader—includes analysis of the geographic distinctions in the decline of low-cost rental housing as well as the impact of the decline on low-income, cost-burdened renters.

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Published on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 in Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University
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