Severe gaps in supply with the private market

SEVERE GAPS IN SUPPLY With the private market failing to provide housing affordable to many of the nation’s lower-income households, the demand for low-cost rentals far outstrips supply. The shortfall is par- ticularly acute for extremely low-income renters (earning up to 30 percent of the area median), but also extends to very low- income renters (earning up to 50 percent of the area median). A National Low Income Housing Coalition study found that, in 2014, there were only 31 rental units affordable and available for every 100 extremely low-income renters, and 57 rental units affordable and available for every 100 very low-income renters (Figure 29).

Notes: Estimates include only units with cash rent reported. Total net change includes conversions to and from other uses, such as seasonal and non-residential. Source: JCHS tabulations of HUD, American Housing Surveys.









-10 Permanent

Losses Filtering

from Other Rent Levels

New Construction

Tenure Conversions

Total Net Change

Permanent Losses and the Slow Pace of Filtering Continue to Limit the Supply of Low-Rent Units Components of Change in the Rental Stock, 2003–2013 (Percent)


Monthly Rent ● Under $800 ● $800 and Over




While large everywhere, the gap is especially wide in many fast- er-growing metros of the South and West. For example, Austin, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Riverside, Sacramento, and San Diego all had no more than one affordable and available unit for every five extremely low-income renter households living in the area. The housing shortage for extremely low-income renters is most acute in the New York (610,000 units) and Los Angeles (382,000 units) metro areas.

Affordable rentals that can accommodate larger families are particularly difficult to find. As a result, the share of four-or- more-person renter families with children that were living in crowded conditions (more than two persons per bedroom) was nearly 19 percent in 2013, compared with an overall share of renter households of 5.5 percent. The incidence of overcrowd- ing among large families classified as very low income is even higher at 25 percent.

One obvious reason for overcrowding is that larger rental units are generally more expensive than smaller units. Even more important, though, many of the larger units afford- able to extremely low-income households are occupied by higher-income households. This includes 52 percent of three- bedroom units affordable to four-or-more-person households with extremely low incomes, 23 percent of two-bedroom units affordable to three-person households, and 28 percent of stu- dios or one-bedroom units affordable to two-person households.

Accessible rentals are also in short supply. As of 2011, less than 40 percent of the rental stock had no-step entries, and only 7 percent had extra-wide halls and doors allowing wheelchair access. In total, just 1 percent of rental units offered these fea- tures as well as single-floor living, lever-style door handles, and accessible electrical controls. And although newer rentals in larg- er multifamily buildings are somewhat more likely to include these five basic accessibility features, their pricing is often out of reach for low-income elderly and disabled households.

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