“Despite the strong economy, the number and share of renters burdened by housing costs rose last year after a couple of years of modest improvement,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the center. “And while the poorest households are most likely to face this challenge, renters earning decent income have driven this recent deterioration in affordability.”
Alarmingly, a majority of lowest-income renters spend more than half of their monthly income on housing, conditions that have led to increases in homelessness, particularly in high-cost states.
Further constraining the market, renting has become more common among those traditionally more likely to own their homes, including those aged 35-64, older adults, and married couples with children. Families with children now make up a larger share of renter households, 29 percent, than owner households, at 26 percent.
“Rising rents are making it increasingly difficult for households to save for a down payment and become homeowners,” said Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a research associate at the center and lead author of the report. “Young, college-educated households with high incomes are really driving current rental demand.”
New rental construction remains near the highest levels in three decades, with a growing share in larger buildings intended for the high end of the market. The share of newly completed apartments in structures with 50 or more units increased steadily from 11 percent in the 1990s to 27 percent in the 2000s to 61 percent in 2018.