The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a new report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), finds a national shortage of nearly seven million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income (ELI) renter households, those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30% of their area median income. In Connecticut, there are 148,502 extremely low-income households but only 61,785 affordable rental homes available to them. The result is only 42 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 households with extremely low incomes. Approximately 64 percent of renters with extremely low incomes in Connecticut are severely cost burdened and at risk of homelessness.
“Tens of thousands of Connecticut households are caught up in a vicious cycle of poverty, housing insecurity, eviction, and homelessness,” said Kiley Gosselin, executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, a statewide housing advocacy organization. “Investments in housing vouchers, eviction prevention, and homelessness prevention have shown to be effective and cost-efficient interventions to stop this cycle from continuing. During this legislative session, Connecticut has a chance to strengthen its housing safety net and make a difference in the lives of the people and families who need it the most.”
Every year, The Gap reports on the severe shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income families and individuals. Nationwide, there are just 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 ELI renter households. 70 percent of the poorest renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on housing, with little left over for other basic necessities. The report shows that even before COVID-19 devastated many low-income households, they were already struggling to afford their rent.
Without public subsidies, the private market does not provide an adequate supply of rental housing affordable to low-income households. Even if rents fall during an economic downturn, they will not fall sufficiently to provide extremely low-income renters with an adequate supply of affordable housing. Owners have an incentive to abandon rental properties or convert them to other uses when rental income is too low to cover basic operating costs and maintenance. Because the market consistently fails to provide adequate, affordable housing for these renters, the government has an essential role to play to correct for this failure.
The crisis created by COVID-19 has made it clearer than ever that stable, affordable housing for all is an imperative for public health and individual well-being. When it became vital to maintain social distancing, many families—who are disproportionately people of color--struggled to keep their homes. We need a robust eviction moratorium and easily accessible emergency rental assistance until renters have recovered from the COVID crisis. As The Gap shows, though, ending the long-term problem of housing affordability will require significant and sustained investments. We need a serious commitment to the production and preservation of affordable housing, an expansion of rental assistance to every eligible household, a stabilization fund to prevent evictions, and stronger legal protections for renters. Without these measures, the lowest-income renters will continue to be a hair’s breadth from severe harms.
For additional information, visit: https://nlihc.org/gap