HUD Worst Case Needs Segment Sees 20% Jump

A Feb. 1 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report to Congress found “worst case housing needs” increased 20% from 2007 to 2009, an increase of 1.2 million households in the U.S.

Those with “worst case housing needs” are defined by HUD as “low-income households who paid more than half their monthly income for rent, lived in severely substandard housing, or both.” The report, titled “Worst Case Housing Needs 2009,” counted the total number of these households to be 7.1 million.

During 2009, 1.33 million elderly renters had worst case needs, an increase of 120,000 from the 2007 estimate. In 2009, the incidence of worst case needs among elderly very low-income renters was 36.5 percent, which is slightly less than the rate for families with children, the report stated.

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The report was based on census data collected between May and September 2009, finding a direct link between housing needs and the recessionary economic climate. The collection of the data took place before economic stimulus efforts including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“The loss of income and the general lack of affordable housing are clearly putting a lot of stress on unassisted families at the lower end of the income spectrum,” said Dr. Raphael Bostic, HUD’s assistant secretary for policy development and research. “It’s equally clear that had it not been for housing assistance offered by HUD, the economic impact on very low-income renters would have been greater still.”

HUD cited unemployment and under-employment as factors pushing 410,000 more households into the “worst case needs” segment, amounting to more than a third of all new cases. The 20% increase was the greatest two-year increase since HUD began reporting on this population within the rental market in 1985.

To read the entire report, see here.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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