Since 2000, rents have risen and the number of renters who need low-priced housing has increased. Nationwide, the market provides only 21 adequate, affordable, and available (AAA) units for every 100 renter households with income at or below 30 percent of the area median income (often called extremely low-income, or ELI, renters). Federal assistance adds another 25 AAA units, making a total of 46 adequate and affordable units available to those households. Without the support of federal rental assistance, not one county in the United States has enough affordable housing for all its ELI renters.

This report shows national trends in housing affordability for ELI renters, based on data from the 2000 Census and the five-year American Community Surveys for 2005–09 and 2010–14.

Key Findings are:

  • There is not enough affordable housing to meet the needs of extremely low-income
    households. The number of adequate, affordable, and available units for every 100 ELI renter
    households has increased since 2009, when 43 units were available per 100 ELI renters. But it is
    still lower than the rate in 2000, when 47 units were available per 100 ELI renters. Since the
    2007–09 recession, the number of affordable units in the private market has increased slightly,
    partly as a result of increased household incomes.
  • Federal rental assistance plays a vital role in supporting ELI renter households. Federal
    programs help almost 2.9 million ELI renters afford adequate housing. The Housing Choice
    Voucher Program is the largest program, assisting nearly 1 million renters, followed by
    Multifamily Section 8 and public housing. US Department of Agriculture rental assistance
    programs help nearly 280,000 ELI renters afford adequate housing.2

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