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Low-income housing is in short supply in every U.S county
The message of the Urban Institute's recent report is clear: We're in a housing crisis, and it's going to take support from all levels of government to get us out. - photo by Omar Etman
America's inventory of affordable housing is not keeping pace with its growing number of extremely low-income renters, new research shows.

Nationwide, there was no county in 2013 with enough affordable housing to meet demands of its ELI renters, according to the Urban Institute, which drew its conclusions from Census and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data.

The research found that 28 adequate and affordable housing units are available for every 100 ELI households in 2013, down from 37 of 100 in 2000. During the same period, the number of ELI households climbed 38 percent while the availability of housing they could afford increased by 7 percent. And since 2007, the number of assisted housing units was essentially unchanged, according to a 2014 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard.

The dearth of affordable housing is linked in the report to the decadeslong rise in housing costs which has not been met with a commensurate rise in wages. As housing costs have climbed, so too has the number of families who need affordable housing.

The situation is especially dire in perpetually housing-strapped metropolitan areas, making it harder and harder for everyday Americans to afford homes in the nations most economically dynamic regions, the Atlantics CityLab says.

More than 80 percent of ELI housing is at least partially subsidized by HUD, according to the report. But budget cuts to HUD have limited the departments ability to provide aid. The most recent blow came this time last year, when Congress, in an attempt to scale down the budget, cut 30 percent of HUDs funding.

The Harvard study found that federal rental subsidies make a fundamental difference in quality of life for families and individuals, the result of an alleviated rent burden.

For the Urban Institute, recovery begins with governments at all levels recommitting resources to housing subsidies, without which it is nearly impossible for ELI renters to achieve stability.

Simply put, virtually no affordable housing units would be available to ELI households absent the continued investment in federally assisted rental housing, the report concluded.


See how your county fared with this interactive map.
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