Report: Half of U.S. Renters Are Cost-Burdened

A record number of renter households struggle to afford housing costs.

1 minute read

January 29, 2024, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Orange "Apartments Leasing" sandwich board sign on sidewalk with arrow pointing right.

MichaelVi / Adobe Stock

Half of renter households in the United States now spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, according to a study from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. As Jennifer Ludden explains in an article for NPR, this is a record number of households that are considered ‘cost burdened.’

“Since 2019, the biggest jump in unaffordability was for households making $30,000 to $74,999 a year. Even among those working full time, a third of all renters were still cost-burdened,” the study found. Of renters making less than $30,000 per year, 83 percent are cost-burdened. Accordingly, homelessness rates have spiked around the country, especially now that many pandemic-era eviction moratoriums and other protections have lapsed.

Ludden points out that “The double-digit rent hikes of the past few years are finally easing, and rents have even come down in some cities that saw the biggest jumps. A record number of apartments are also under construction, and as they come online, tight vacancy rates will loosen.” But the construction boom likely won’t bring costs down to pre-pandemic levels.

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