Half of U.S. renters are cost burdened, Harvard report finds

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Rent prices are coming down in some areas, but not at the pace needed to relieve tenants struggling to pay rent.

Half of renters in the U.S. spent more than 30% of their income in 2022 on rent and utilities, according to the new America’s Rental Housing report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

The report considers those who spend 30% or more of their income on housing “rent burdened” or “cost burdened,” which means those high costs may make it difficult for them to meet other essential expenses.

The share of cost-burdened renters increased by 3.2 percentage points from 2019 to 2022.

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“Places in the market that need the most relief are at the very low end, and it’s hard to reach those people through market rate supply alone,” said Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, lead author and senior research associate focused on affordable housing at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

While cost burden has increased across income levels, the consequences are much higher for low-income households, said Airgood-Obrycki.

‘We have a very unaffordable country right now’

Share of young adults living at home go back to 1940s

The share of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 who live at home with parents is almost at 50%, according to a study Wachter co-authored.

That is a result of young adults competing with potential homebuyers who themselves are being priced out of the single-family housing market.

“They’re competing in a way that they haven’t before,” she said. “The home mortgage market is indirectly causing a huge spillover demand into the rental market making the rental market not affordable.”

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