Affordable Housing, Community Development, Reports and Publications

Out of Reach, Harvard Study: Connecticut Renters Severely Burdened


Connecticut rental costs are up 55% statewide since 2000 and the housing wage – what a renter must earn per hour to afford a typical 2BR apartment - is up to $23.37 statewide or $48,600 a year, up from from $23 in 2010, and is $18.50 even in rural areas, according to the new Out of Reach study.

Produced by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and released Monday, the new study shows that better than 6 in 10 of Connecticut’s 410,000 renters spend more than 30% of their incomes on housing, leaving little for food, clothing, transportation, healthcare and other necessities. The study also found that nearly half the 683 occupations in Connecticut - including machinists, mental health counselors, ambulance drivers, pre-school teachers, corrections officers and other vital jobs - pay an average wage less than the housing wage.

Connecticut has seen a loss of 7,000 rental units since 2000, according to Census figures, and that drop in supply has no doubt contributed to higher prices as foreclosures and tight credit have driven up demand for rental housing. The increased price since 2000 has been greatest in the Danbury and Bridgeport regions, where prices have risen 77% and 70% respectively since 2000.

For more information on the study, click here.

Harvard Finds Demand for Affordable Rental Housing On Rise

Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) has found that renter incomes are not keeping up with the rising costs of housing and utilities. Since 1980, real rents have increased 15%. Yet, real renter incomes are now below 1980 renter income levels.  The divergence of rents and incomes has been particularly pronounced in the past decade. While rents stalled during the most recent recession, they are once again on the rise, with a 2.3% increase in the last quarter of 2010. Renter incomes have not shown any indication of increasing.

Long-term analysis of renter cost burdens demonstrates the growing struggle that emerges from these divergent trends. In 1960, 44% of renters in the bottom quintile faced a severe housing cost burden, defined as paying over 50% of their income towards rent. By 2009, 61% of renters in the bottom income quintile faced such a burden. The incidence of unaffordable housing cost burden among moderate income households is also on the rise. Over the last decade, the percentage of middle-income households paying over 30% of their income for rent doubled. Overall, while only 24% of renters paid over 30% of their income towards rent in 1960, by 2009 49% of renters were in this predicament.

While part of the story is declines in incomes, the report also confirms that there is an insufficient supply of affordable rental homes available to meet the need among the lowest income households. Over 28% of the most affordable, unassisted rental homes have been lost since 1999 and the current supply of seven million assisted rental homes can only serve approximately a quarter of all renters eligible for federal housing assistance. The authors estimate that since 1995, 700,000 homes with assistance attached to them have been lost.

To access the study, entitled America’s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities, click here.


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