The US is grappling with a severe housing affordability crisis, with soaring rents and home prices making it increasingly difficult for many to secure affordable housing. Since early 2020, rents have surged by 26%, and three out of five markets continue to experience rising rental costs.



Escalating Housing Costs


A recent report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies highlights the widespread increase in housing costs across the country. Despite a recent slowdown in rent growth due to a surge in new multifamily buildings, the affordability crisis persists. As of 2022, half of all tenant households were classified as cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on rent. This is the highest percentage since the US Census began collecting this data. Additionally, the number of households that are severely cost-burdened, spending over 50% of their income on rent, reached a record high in 2022.


Alexander Hermann, a senior research associate at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, stated, “Rents have been rising faster than incomes for decades. However, the pandemic-era rent surge produced an unprecedented affordability crisis that continues.”



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Vulnerable Populations and Affected Areas


The report emphasizes that lower-income individuals and people of color are among the most vulnerable renters. Certain communities, such as Naples, Florida, and Corvallis, Oregon, have some of the highest rates of cost-burdened tenants. In Florida alone, five metro areas have more than 60% of renters classified as cost-burdened. Naples-Marco Island and Port St. Lucie lead the nation, with about 64% of renters in both areas spending over 30% of their income on housing.


Pennsylvania also has notable areas of concern, with State College and East Stroudsburg seeing 63% and 61% of renters, respectively, classified as cost-burdened.



Severe Cost Burden


Several metro areas report that more than 40% of tenants are severely cost-burdened, spending over half their income on housing. Stillwater, Oklahoma, tops the list with 45% of renters facing severe cost burdens. Corvallis, Oregon; Port St. Lucie, Florida; and State College, Pennsylvania, are notable for being in the top 10 for both cost-burdened and severely cost-burdened renters.



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Homeownership Challenges


Renters are finding it increasingly challenging to transition to homeownership. The US home price index has soared by 47% since early 2020, and the median home price is now about five times the median household income. Rising mortgage interest rates further exacerbate the situation, making homeownership even more elusive.



Struggles of Homeowners


Homeowners are not immune to the affordability crisis. Many are contending with rising insurance premiums, home repair costs, and property taxes. Between 2019 and 2022, the number of cost-burdened homeowners—those spending more than 30% of their income on housing and utilities—increased by approximately three million people.


This comprehensive analysis underscores the pervasive nature of the housing affordability crisis in the US, affecting both renters and homeowners alike. As rents and home prices continue to rise, addressing this issue remains critical for ensuring housing stability across the nation.

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*This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended as financial or legal advice. Please consult with a professional advisor before making any investment decisions.

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