Eliminate rent burden: If renters weren’t paying too much rent, they could spend more on family needs and in the community.

Insights & Analyses

  • The overall amount of disposable income for renters if they paid only what they could afford on housing has grown from $71.7 billion in 2000 to $130 billion in 2017. 

  • Renters of all racial and ethnic groups would have $6,197 more in disposable income if they were not rent burdened while Asian or Pacific Islander renters would have $7,966 more in disposable income. 

  • Renters in Southern states, like Louisiana and West Virginia, would see the highest gains in disposable income if they paid only what they could afford on housing while renters in more rural states, like Alaska and Wyoming, would see the smallest gains.  

  • Disposable income for renters in cities with large populations of color, like Detroit and New Orleans, would increase the most out of the 100 largest US cities.

Drivers of Inequity

Lack of affordable housing production coupled with skyrocketing housing prices and stagnant wages for low-wage workers has caused the housing burden for poor Americans, particularly low-income renters, to increase following the recovery from the 2008 housing crisis. People of color are over-represented in these populations; this is due in part to a long history of racial segregation forged through practices such as racially restrictive housing covenants, redlining, and discriminatory lending. People of color are also more likely to rent than own a home because historical dispossession and discrimination have prevented accumulation of wealth and upward mobility.

Strategies

Grow an equitable economy: Policies to ensure affordable housing for all

Strategy in Action

Oregon strengthens eviction and rent increase protections. In 2019, Oregon became the first state to pass a rent control bill. Senate Bill 608 limits landlords’ ability to increase rent to just 7 percent per year, plus the annual change in the consumer price index. The bill also requires landlords to give a reason for evicting tenants who have been living in their unit for over one year. If the eviction reason is not due to lease violations, the tenant may also be entitled to one month of rent compensation from the landlord. As half of all renters in Oregon spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities, this policy change marks an important step toward addressing the statewide housing crisis. Learn more.

Related Indicators