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Report: Americans Burdened by Skyrocketing Cost of Rent

The number of cost-burdened renter households jumped by nearly 300,000 between 2017 and 2018, according to a new report from Apartment List.
The number of cost-burdened renter households jumped by nearly 300,000 between 2017 and 2018, according to a new report from Apartment List.
October 31, 2019

BOSTON – Nearly half of all renter households nationwide are now spending more than 30% of their income on rent, according to a new report by the online service Apartment List.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, spending more than 30% of your income on housing means you're cost burdened.

Chris Salviati, a housing economist at Apartment List, says this is the first time renter cost burden has increased since 2014.

"This jump that we have seen over the past year, I think, does really speak to the worsening of the housing affordability issue,” he states. “If you're following the 2020 primaries, virtually all of the Democratic candidates now have plans that they have released to address the housing affordability crisis."

Salviati points to cities such as Boston, with lots of good, high paying jobs, but lacking the housing infrastructure needed to keep up with demand. He says cities across the country are experiencing similar growing pains.

There's also the issue of home ownership. Salivati notes it's becoming increasingly difficult for people in their 20s and 30s to purchase their first home, and that's having a ripple effect on renting costs.

"There has been a severe lack of new construction, particularly for starter homes, and so millennials, and folks who are reaching an age and point in their careers where maybe previously they would have been purchasing homes, a lot are continuing to rent,” he explains. “And so that does add this tightness to the rental market, which drives up prices."

In Massachusetts, renters are shelling out 34.1% of their income on housing.

Salviati says that should be an eye opener when considering where to live.

"Which, again, is well above that 30% threshold," he points out.

The report also found that nationwide, the cost of median rent grew faster than renter income for the first time in nearly a decade.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - MA