Unaffordable: Report Shows U.S. Renters Struggle as Housing Costs Soar

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Over the past two years, many renters have faced a significant increase in housing costs, with more than half of U.S. renters spending over 30% of their income on rent and utilities in 2022, according to a new report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The report reveals that the cost burden has increased for renters across all income categories, with a record number of them paying more than 50% of their income for housing. Even full-time workers making $30,000 to $74,999 annually saw a significant jump in unaffordability, reflecting the impact of rising rents during the pandemic.

For those making under $30,000, the struggle to afford housing has reached a critical level, with 83% of them facing a severe cost burden. As a result, the amount of money left over for other living expenses has decreased by nearly half, leaving households with only $310 a month.

The report also highlights the shortage of affordable housing, linking it to the record high homelessness rates last year. Housing experts attribute the homelessness crisis to the severe housing shortage that has driven up prices, leaving many without secure and affordable housing.

While the rental market is finally showing signs of stabilization, with rents leveling off and even dropping in some cities, the changes are not expected to significantly alleviate the affordability crisis. Most new apartments built in recent years cater to higher-income renters, further exacerbating the gap in what the majority of renters can afford.

The implications are profound, with millions more people now qualifying for federal housing subsidies. However, chronic underfunding of these programs has led to a widening gap between demand and available resources, leaving many still struggling to find affordable housing.

One Philadelphia resident, a single mom of four, was forced to leave her unaffordable apartment and move in with friends. She is now working as a driver with Lyft and hopes to find a more affordable place to call home, reflecting the challenges faced by many renters in today’s housing market.