Nearly one-third of American households are cost-burdened: report

They are spending more than 30% of income on housing

(Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)
(Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

Nearly 40 million American households were cost-burdened in 2016, meaning that they spent more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing, according to a new report.

Though that represents a decrease of 800,000 households from 2015, renters haven’t seen much improvement since the recession, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies’ “State of the Nation’s Housing.” The share of renters who were cost-burdened in 2016 was 47 percent, down only slightly from 2011’s peak of 51 percent, MarketWatch reported. According to a separate report released by New York University this month, 55.7 percent of low-income households in New York City were moderately or severely rent burdened in 2016, meaning that they paid between 30 and 50 percent of their income on rent.

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The Harvard report shows that housing construction is slowing down after growing each year since 2008. Rising material costs, shortages in skilled labor, a shrinking pool of development sites and other factors are contributing to the decline, which only further exacerbates the shortage of affordable housing.

Though unemployment is down and competition for housing is fierce, inequality remains a significant challenge. According to the report, the homeownership rate among African Americans has increased since the foreclosure crisis but remains near all-time lows. Since 1994, the homeownership rate among African Americans has increased only .3 percent, compared to 2.2 percent for white households. There’s a 29.2 percentage-point gap between the rate for whites and blacks. [MarketWatch] — Kathryn Brenzel