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Harvard JCHS Releases America’s Rental Housing 2020

4 February 2020
Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

The Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) has released America’s Rental Housing 2020, which provides a comprehensive snapshot of the nation’s rental market. JCHS reports that affordability remains a large challenge, rental markets continue to be very constrained, and low rental vacancy rates are pushing up rents.

In the report, JCHS finds the composition of the rental market is shifting, with numbers of high-income renters (those households earning over $75,000 annually) climbing. Consequently, a growing proportion of new rental construction is higher-end rentals occurring as large apartment buildings, aimed at those high-income renters. In 2018, 61 percent of newly completed units were in buildings of 50 or more units. In addition to growing demand from the high-income renters, JCHS notes that multiple other factors are in play when looking at the increase in rental costs, including growing costs of land and development.

At the same time, the supply of low-cost rental is declining. In 2017, the share of low-cost rental stock nationally was 25 percent, dropping precipitously from 33 percent in 2012. JCHS notes that this decline is in part due to the strong demand from high-income earners driving up overall rental costs, as well as a limited supply of new low-cost rentals.

In high-cost metropolitan areas, JCHS reports an increase in cost-burdened middle-income renters (households earning between $45,000 and $74,999 annually). Connecticut is seeing a similar trend across the state, most considerably in Fairfield County. In the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area, the number of cost-burdened and extremely cost-burdened renters has increased steadily since 2006. The percentage of severely cost-burdened middle-income renter households in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area jumped from 4.6 percent in 2006 to 12.3 percent in 2018.

Along with the report JCHS released interactive data and resources, allowing users to explore data by metropolitan area.

Click here to read the report.