- Eleven million renter households with extremely low incomes account for 25% of all renter households and 9% of all U.S. households.
- People of color are much more likely than white people to be renters and have extremely low incomes. Twenty percent of Black households, 18% of American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) households, 15% of Latino households, and 10% of Asian households are extremely lowincome renters. Only 6% of white non-Latino households are extremely low-income renters.
- Extremely low-income renters in the U.S. face a shortage of approximately 7 million affordable and available rental homes. Only 36 affordable and available homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households.1
- Seventy-one percent (7.8 million) of the nation’s 11 million extremely low-income renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on rent and utilities. They account for 72% of all severely housing cost-burdened renters in the U.S.
- Forty-six percent of extremely low-income renter householders are seniors or have a disability, and another 44% are in the labor force, in school, or are single-adult caregivers.
- No state has an adequate supply of affordable and available homes for extremely low-income renters. The current relative supply ranges from 18 affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households in Nevada to 61 affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households in West Virginia.
- One in five renter households with annual incomes below $35,000 was behind on rent in March 2022. These lower-income households make up the majority (69%) of all households behind on rent.
Worst case needs are a long-standing measure of the extent of unmet needs for affordable rental housing of adequate quality. Renter households are defined as having worst case needs for such housing if they have very low incomes— household incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), do not receive government housing assistance, and pay more than one-half of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both. Worst Case Housing Needs: 2021 Report to Congress examines the causes of and trends in worst case needs using the most recent data from the 2019 American Housing Survey.
- In 2019, 7.77 million renter households had worst case needs. These are renters that have very low incomes (VLI), lack housing assistance, and have either severe rent burdens or severely inadequate housing (or both).
- As the older adult population has increased during the past 10 years, so, too, has the number of older adult households with severe housing problems. The prevalence of worst case needs decreased by 1 point among households headed by someone younger than 62 while it increased by 1 percentage point among households headed by an older adult
- Worst case needs remained a serious and prevalent problem among all household types in 2019: 40 percent among families with children and among households headed by older adults, 44 percent among “other family” households (including multiple family members without children), and 46 percent among “other nonfamily” households (mostly single individuals).
- About one in eight renter households with worst case needs—13 percent—included people younger than 62 who have disabilities.
- As the economy grew during 2017 to 2019, the production and supply of affordable homes remained insufficient to satisfy the demand for affordable and available units by very low-income renters. An important dimension of the affordable housing supply gap is that affordable units are not necessarily available to the renters who need them most; higher-income renters occupy substantial shares of units that would be affordable to the lowest-income renters.
- Housing assistance prevents millions of renters from experiencing worst case needs. The shortfall of housing assistance relative to need increased between 2017 and 2019 as the number of assisted renters decreased by 2.7 percent. The share of VLI renter households receiving housing assistance decreased by 1.3 points to 27.5 percent during the period.
- With the expected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic difficulties in 2020 and 2021, worst case housing needs have potential to increase substantially before HUD’s next report.