CAMBRIDGE, MA -- An increasingly number of renters of apartments and houses are paying more than half their income rent and utilities, according to a new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS).

The report, “America’s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities” finds that the long-term increases in rents and utility costs combined with falling renter incomes put strain on many renters’ budgets. The Great Recession made matters worse, increasing the cost burden on once-secure working and middle class Americans.

According to JCHS, one in four renters, or 10.1 million households, spends more than half their income on rent and utilities. Another quarter of renters, 26.2%, spends 30%-50% of their income on rent and utilities.

“In the last decade, rental housing affordability problems went through the roof,” said Eric Belsky, managing director of the Harvard JCHS and an author of the study. “And these affordability problems are marching up the income scale. In real terms, it means more people have less money to spend on household necessities such as food, health care and savings.”

While the demand for affordable rental housing is greater than ever, the report also finds that the supply has been shrinking. Since the mid 1990s, more than 700,000 rentals with federal subsidies tied to them were lost from the subsidized housing stock.

Posted by Rich Christianson

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.