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Housing Vouchers Don't Keep Up With Rising Rents

In counties where rents are rising fastest, fewer and fewer rental listings are affordable to renters with Housing Choice Vouchers

- HUD's Fair Market Rents did not keep up with market rents in half of the nation's largest counties.

- In 15 of the 100 large counties Zillow analyzed, voucher holders would be able to rent less than 10 percent of the 2-bedroom rentals on the market.

- The median rent across the country requires at least 45 percent of low-earning renters' monthly income in most of the nation's largest housing markets, far higher than what experts recommend to be 'affordable' for households.

Oct 13, 2017

SEATTLE, Oct. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Federal housing vouchers for low-income renters are too low to cover the market renti in many of the nation's job centers – making them unusable for millions of renters seeking assistance to cover housing costs.

Rents have skyrocketed across the country, especially in growing job markets, where high demand for a limited number of units has made it difficult for renters of any income to find a place to live.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher program is intended to give renters enough to afford 40 percent of the rentals in their market. The value of the vouchers is set according to HUD's Fair Market Rent index (FMR). However, Zillow's research found that 75 of the 100 largest U.S. counties do not meet this threshold. In 15 countiesii, voucher holders could rent less than 10 percent of available rentals.

For the typical renter, monthly housing costs require a larger share of income than they did in the 1980s and 1990s. For low-income renters, the situation is much worse. In nearly all of the nation's largest markets, low-income renters can expect to spend more than 45 percent of their monthly income on rentiii, significantly more than the suggested 30 percent that guides most federal policy. Vouchers are designed to help low-income renters afford housing, but long wait lists and the fact that HUD's FMRs aren't keeping up with on-the-ground rents in many markets limit the efficacy of the program.

HUD's FMRs are not increasing at the same pace as actual rents in many places. Fair Market Rent growth trails Zillow® Rent Index (ZRI) appreciation in half of the 100 counties analyzed. In Lee County, Florida, home to Fort Myers and Cape Coral, the FMR has risen 2.1 percent since 2012, while the ZRI increased 43.7 percent.

In the counties where voucher-value growth doesn't keep pace with market rents, voucher-holders have fewer options for rental units, and this is especially true in counties where rents are increasing fastest. In Los Angeles County, rents have risen 25 percent since 2012, but FMR has grown only 6.8 percent. Just 7 percent of rental listings in the county are considered affordable even with a housing voucher.

"Many markets with strong rent growth tend to also have the types of jobs that could help renters climb the socioeconomic ladder," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "However, many low-income households - even those with a voucher - are increasingly being priced out of these markets, unable to find affordable housing options near these jobs. If rents and HUD's Fair Market Rents continue to move at different paces, this affordability crisis will only worsen for low-income renters."

In most major markets, there are far more renters who need the assistance of a housing voucher than there are vouchers. For people who can't get a housing voucher, the consequences of rising rents can be even more severe. In many major job markets, rising rents lead to a larger homeless populationiv. A five percent increase in rents in the New York metropolitan area would lead to an estimated 3,000 more homeless people. The homeless population in Los Angeles would grow by an estimated 2,000 people if a similar rent increase occurred.

County Name

Percent of 2BR Units
Listed Below 2BR FMR

ZRI Change
Since 2012

FMR Change Since
2012

Los Angeles, CA

7.1%

24.6%

6.8%

Cook, IL

20.2%

12.1%

28.6%

Harris, TX

14.2%

17.1%

4.2%

Maricopa, AZ

27.1%

16.2%

8.5%

San Diego, CA

23.4%

24.9%

26.3%

Orange, CA

8.9%

22.3%

9.7%

Kings, NY

3.8%

35.4%

15.0%

Miami-Dade, FL

3.4%

19.1%

15.1%

Dallas, TX

11.3%

24.2%

18.8%

Queens, NY

3.2%

28.8%

15.0%

Riverside, CA

22.0%

18.0%

4.2%

San Bernardino, CA

41.7%

16.8%

4.2%

Clark, NV

37.8%

9.4%

-6.8%

King, WA

12.5%

43.0%

40.6%

Wayne, MI

48.4%

3.1%

14.2%

Tarrant, TX

21.3%

18.5%

12.7%

Santa Clara, CA

8.8%

39.7%

36.8%

Broward, FL

19.9%

11.6%

10.1%

Bexar, TX

30.3%

18.6%

26.8%

New York, NY

0.1%

16.9%

15.0%

Philadelphia, PA

31.9%

10.3%

12.7%

Alameda, CA

16.1%

47.7%

55.0%

Middlesex, MA

5.1%

18.0%

21.1%

Bronx, NY

24.6%

13.3%

15.0%

Nassau, NY

18.0%

22.1%

11.7%

Palm Beach, FL

29.5%

23.4%

20.4%

Cuyahoga, OH

31.8%

11.2%

7.4%

Hillsborough, FL

20.0%

16.1%

9.5%

Allegheny, PA

23.6%

17.8%

18.6%

Oakland, MI

16.6%

14.3%

14.2%

Franklin, OH

36.6%

12.2%

12.2%

Hennepin, MN

10.1%

20.6%

20.1%

Orange, FL

16.9%

19.9%

7.1%

Fairfax, VA

29.3%

5.9%

15.9%

Contra Costa, CA

35.6%

35.0%

55.0%

Zillow

Zillow® is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help. In addition, Zillow operates an industry-leading economics and analytics bureau led by Zillow's Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. Dr. Gudell and her team of economists and data analysts produce extensive housing data and research covering more than 450 markets at Zillow Real Estate Research. Zillow also sponsors the quarterly Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, which asks more than 100 leading economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists to predict the path of the Zillow Home Value Index over the next five years. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group (NASDAQ:Z and ZG), and headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

i Measured by the Zillow Rent Index and Zillow Rental Listings data.

ii It is likely that online real estate listings may disproportionately miss less expensive rental properties. There is no known national database of rental listings. We don't expect missing some of the least-expensive rentals to be more or less severe in some areas compared to others.

iii https://www.zillow.com/research/low-income-rentals-unaffordable-16158/

iv https://www.zillow.com/research/rents-larger-homeless-population-16124/

 

SOURCE Zillow, Inc.

For further information: Lauren Braun, Zillow, press@zillow.com


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