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Housing Shortage Causes Crisis for Renters

[Oct 16, 2007.]


The Center for Housing Policy notes that the number of renting families who are shelling out more than half of their household income for housing has skyrocketed to 2.1 million since 1997. Back then, working families who were paying out a disproportionate share of their income for rent was only 1 million.

Because of a shortage of affordable rental properties, families are finding it tougher than ever to find a suitable place to call home. Experts estimate there are a little more than 6 million affordable rental units available. Yet, the number of low-income renters stands at 9 million.

As a result of this dire situation, some renters have been forced to double up with family and friends until they can save up enough to afford a place of their own. Fair housing advocates say that renters are foregoing things like saving for retirement or even postponing college educations simply so that they can have a roof over their heads.

The rent is highest in Stamford, Connecticut, followed by San Francisco. As a result of the high rents, teachers and others of moderate income levels are finding they simply can't afford to rent a property on their own. Some have even turned to housesitting in an attempt to find shelter during tough times.

The situation can lead to a type of nomadic existence which makes it difficult to put down roots in a community. Consequently, low wage earners may experience less stability than those with higher incomes.

Others are taking in roommates or running up credit card balances in an attempt to make ends meet.

Yet, the rental crisis has been overshadowed by the troubles in the mortgage market. While public officials speak openly of providing assistance to homeowners who can't meet their monthly payments, comparatively little has been said about those who can't afford to pay their rents.

Julie Ann Amos
October 16th 2007

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