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Report: More than 1 in 4 Working Renters Face Severe Housing Costs

While home affordability has reached ""record"":http://dsnews.comarticles/nar-reports-strong-finish-for-national-metro-area-home-prices-2013-02-11 high levels, for renters, housing cost burdens have been steadily increasing.

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According to the annual _Housing Landscape_ report from the ""Center for Housing Policy"":http://www.nhc.org/about/Center-Mission-Goals.html (CHP), 26.4 percent of working renters spent more than half of their household income on housing costs in 2011. The share is an increase from 2008 when 22.8 percent of working renters had a severe housing cost burden.

Working households included households with members who worked at least 20 hours per week and earned no more than 120 percent of the median income in the area.

CHP provided two reasons the burden of renting has grown: falling incomes and rising rental housing costs. For example, the report found the median housing cost for working renters rose nearly six percent between 2008 and 2011, yet median incomes fell more than three percent.

""While rental costs have steadily risen over the last few years, wages for these working families have not fully recovered from the hit they took between 2008 and 2009,"" said lead report author Janet Viveiros. ""Spending most of your paycheck on rent means cutting back on other necessities, including healthcare and even food. The increased housing cost burden leaves many working households with insufficient funds to meet other fixed costs like clothing, healthcare and food.""

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The lingering impact of the housing crisis has also led to an increase in demand for rentals.

""What we're seeing with the rental market is not explainable by population trends alone-it clearly reflects the movement of former homeowners into rentals as well as delays in home purchases by current renters,"" explained co-author Maya Brennan. ""But this increase in rental demand has not been matched by an increase in supply. This imbalance leads to rising rents in markets across the country.""

While heavy burdens have fallen on more renters over the years, for owner households who work, the share who experienced a severe housing cost burden was roughly flat. In 2011, 20.9 percent of working owner households had a severe housing cost burden, up slightly from 20.8 percent in 2008. From 2008 to 2011, household income for owners has decreased by 4.2 percent, but housing costs also decreased, falling by 3.2 percent.

The share of working households (renters and owners) with severe housing cost burdens varied significantly by state. For example, in South Dakota, just 9 percent of working households were severely burdened by housing costs in 2011. On the other hand, in California, the share was 34 percent. Other states with a high share of severely burdened working households were Florida (32 percent), New Jersey (32 percent), Hawaii (30 percent), and New York (30 percent).

On a more microscopic level, the study found Miami was the most burdened metro area, with 41 percent of working households dealing with severe housing costs.

Other burdened metros were Los Angeles (39 percent), New York (35 percent), Orlando (35 percent), and San Diego (34 percent). The metro areas least burdened were Pittsburgh (14 percent), Minneapolis (17 percent), Louisville (17 percent), Raleigh (17 percent), and Cincinnati (18 percent).

The study found there were about 44.5 million working households in the country in 2011, of which 22.6 million were renters.

About Author: Esther Cho

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