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One in 20 Americans Live in Inadequate Housing

The latest American Housing Survey conducted by the Census Bureau for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a disturbing statistic hidden among other larger findings—1 in 20, or 5%, of American homes don’t meet the standard of “a suitable living environment” as defined by the HUD. 

Any number of things can contribute to the inadequacy of a domicile—lacking of certain features such as a full bathroom or not having hot water, to poor heating and exposed wires, rack up too many ticks and you may find your home deemed inadequate. 

When using the 5% inadequacy rate statistic and apply that to all homes, there are around 6 million homes deemed severely or moderately inadequate. Using the average occupancy rate of 2.6 residents per unit, it can be deduced that there are 15.5 million Americans living in substandard housing. 

A new study from Porch, uses data from the American Housing Survey to look into adequacy in the 25 largest metropolitan areas by looking at five key areas: structural damage, heating, plumbing, electricity, and infestations. 

Porch found that Pittsburg, Pennsylvania came out on top as 8.2% of homes were deemed inadequate by the survey while rounding out the top 25 cities was Riverside, California where only 4.3% of homes have serious defects. 

“Over 11% of homes in Pittsburgh, PA have some kind of structural damage. This includes cracks in the foundation, holes in floors and walls wider than a dime, and leaks from outside the structure,” Porch wrote in the study. “Every fifth home (21%) in Steel City has a leaky roof, basement, window, or door resulting in water damage.” 

As expected, certain socio-economic groups are more likely to live in inadequate homes, chief among them are renters, who are twice as likely to live in inadequate housing than homeowners, and people of color, who are 1.5 times more likely to inhabit a substandard home than white Americans. 

Disabled Americans are at particular risk; 8% of households including a person with a disability are deemed inadequate, compared to just 3% of households without any occupants that have a disability. 

And of course, the working poor, or those earning less than $30,000 annually, are more likely to live in inadequate housing as up to 8% of those in this class live in conditions like this—a rate of four times that of middle-class counterparts.

Click here to view the study and corresponding graphics on Porch.com. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected]
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