HUD Publishes Worst Case Housing Needs Report

In early August, HUD released its biannual Worst Case Housing Needs report to Congress. The report indicates the number of very poor unsubsidized households struggling to pay their monthly rent and who may also be living in substandard housing increased between 2013 and 2015.

In this report, HUD states that in 2015, 8.3 million very low-income unassisted households meet the definition of worst case housing needs as they:

  • Paid more than half their monthly income for rent;
  • Lived in severely substandard housing; or
  • Both.

Further, HUD’s report finds that housing needs cut across all regions of the country and include all racial and ethnic groups, regardless of whether they live in cities, suburbs, or rural areas.

In addition, HUD concluded that large numbers of worst case needs were also found across various household types including households with children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

The following is a summary of the reports findings:

  • After a decline in worst case needs from 2011 to 2013, the number increased between 2013 and 2015 to the second highest number of households recorded—8.3 million.
  • The number of households with worst case needs have increased by 66% since 2001, with historic increases occurring between 2007 and 2011 when the combination of mortgage foreclosures, widespread unemployment, and shrinking renter incomes dramatically expanded severe housing problems.
  • While incomes continued to rise between 2013 and 2015, rents also increased nearly as fast. For the poorest renters, however, growth in rental costs outpaced income gains.
  • Though the production of rental housing is strong, the rapidly growing population of renters is putting increasing pressure on this market, particularly on the inventory of affordable rental housing.
  • The number of households with worst case needs increased across all racial and ethnic groups. The prevalence of worst case needs during 2015 was as follows:
    • 47% for Hispanic renters,
    • 45% for non-Hispanic white renters,
    • 37% for non-Hispanic black renters, and
    • 41% for others.
  • The South and West regions were home to the highest number of very low-income renters. Not only do these regions contain the most very low-income renters but these renters also had the highest prevalence of worst case needs and the lowest likelihood of receiving housing assistance.
  • By metropolitan type, worst case needs were most prevalent in densely populated urban suburbs, followed by central cities.
  • Government housing assistance programs such as those provided through HUD, RD, LIHC, HOME, etc., reduce worst case needs and homelessness but are not available for all who need assistance.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 very low-income households nationally receive some form of rental assistance but only a 32% avoided severe housing problems in the unassisted private rental market in 2015.
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