15-1 Research Updates

By Dan Emmanuel, Mackenzie Pish, and Sarah Abdelhadi, NLIHC

The Gap

NLIHC published its annual report The Gap on March 14. The report finds that the lowest-income renters in the U.S. face a shortage of 7.3 million affordable and available rental homes. The shortage has increased by almost 500,000 rental homes since 2019, as the number of renters with extremely low incomes increased while the supply of housing affordable to them declined during the pandemic. Only 34 affordable and available homes exist for every 100 renter households with extremely low incomes. This shortage impacts every state and the District of Columbia, resulting in widespread housing cost burdens for renters with the lowest incomes. Seventy-four percent of extremely low-income renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half their limited incomes on housing. These renters account for 69% of severely housing cost-burdened renters in the U.S. Extremely low-income renter householders are more likely than other renter householders to be seniors, have disabilities, be in school, or be single-adult caregivers.

The report emphasizes that significant federal investments are also needed to assist the lowest-income renters. Specifically, the report argues that Congress must make deeply targeted, sustained investments in affordable housing solutions, including a significant increase in resources for the National Housing Trust Fund, an expansion of rental assistance provided by the Housing Choice Voucher program, adequate federal funds to renew Project-Based Rental Assistance and to repair public housing, a national emergency rent stabilization fund, and strengthened renter protections. Visit www.nlihc.org/gap to learn more and to explore data on your community.

Natural Hazards and Federally Assisted Housing

NLIHC and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) released a joint report on November 8, 2023, analyzing the risks that natural hazards pose to federally assisted housing and its residents. The report, Natural Hazards and Federally Assisted Housing, finds that nearly a quarter of federally assisted homes are in neighborhoods with the greatest risk of negative impacts from natural hazards. In eight states, more than half of federally assisted homes are in neighborhoods with the greatest risk. The report also finds that 30% of federally assisted rental homes in rural areas are in neighborhoods with the greatest risk for negative impacts, compared to 23% of federally assisted rental homes in urban areas. Overall, in terms of specific hazards, heat waves appear to pose the greatest threat to federally assisted residents.

The report concludes that greater resources for mitigation and better recovery planning are needed at all levels of government to protect federally assisted housing and its residents from natural hazards. The “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” would permanently authorize the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, helping to expedite the allocation of federal recovery funds and prioritize one-for-one repair or replacement of federally assisted housing impacted by disasters. Given the risks posed by heat waves, there is also a need to improve energy efficiency and air conditioning in older federally assisted homes, while expanding utility allowance policies in federal housing programs to cover air conditioning for all residents. You can read more about natural hazards and federally assisted housing at: https://bit.ly/3QOqvsN.

Rental Housing Programs Database

In October 2023, NLIHC released an update to its Rental Housing Programs Database (RHPD) with support from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. First published in 2014, the RHPD is a publicly available collection of information on state and locally funded programs that create, preserve, or increase access to affordable rental housing. The database helps advocates, state and local agencies, policymakers, and other interested parties understand the ways in which state and local governments use their own financial resources to close the gap between available federal funding for rental housing and the unmet needs of renters in their communities. Users can explore detailed information on the scope, objectives, eligibility requirements, priority populations, and other characteristics of programs found in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and 70 large cities. The accompanying report, State and Local Investments in Rental Housing, summarizes the characteristics of rental housing programs included in the 2023 RHPD. You can explore the updated database and read the report at: https://nlihc.org/rental-programs.