The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) recently released a report - Taking Stock: Rural People, Poverty and Housing in the 21st Century - highlighting the struggle rural America has with poverty and housing affordability. One fifth of the U.S population resides in rural areas. The population in rural and small town areas grew 5.6% between 2000 and 2010 but this was a slower rate than the rest of the nation. While there is an overall population increase, many areas are losing population, which affects housing stock. In addition, the average age of rural America is increasing to the point where rural America is older than the nation as a whole, resulting in more housing needs that are not being met.
The first of these reports were published in 1980 following the release of decennial Census data. This is the 4th rendition of the report and it takes data from the 2010 Census and American Community Survey (ACS).
The report states that:
- The number of housing cost burdened households (paying more than 30% of gross income to housing) increased 6% from 2000 – 2010. Over 7 million rural households have housing cost burdens.
- African-American households in rural areas are three times as likely to live in substandard housing as other residents, and overcrowding is especially prevalent in rural Hispanic communities, with a rate of three times the average rural rate.
- A lack of affordable housing units in rural communities is driving people to manufactured housing (mobile homes). Over half of all manufactured homes are in rural areas.
- 86% of the 429 persistently poor counties nationwide are entirely rural and minorities make up 60% of this population.
With changing demographics and persistent poverty, rural America is facing housing affordability problems that will need to be addressed in the near future.
Click here to access the report.