News & Media
Single-family home with for-rent sign out front
ejs9, E+, Getty Images

HUD: More than Half of Renters Spend 30%-Plus for Housing

The American Housing Survey found that 51.4% of renters spend 30% or more of their family income on housing; 13% of households with someone 55 years of age or older live in an age-restricted community; and 11.3% of all households had cockroaches within the past year.

WASHINGTON – According to the new 2019 American Housing Survey (AHS) released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of American renter households spending 30% or more of their income on housing costs held steady at 51% between 2017 and 2019.

The 2019 AHS offers a comprehensive picture of the nation’s housing inventory before the pandemic hit. Going forward, it will create a baseline for comparison after newer studies look at the pandemic’s impact on the nation’s households.

The survey also included questions on food security, marking the second time in four years this type of data was collected and making it possible to track changes in food security. In 2019, about 85% of households had high food security, meaning they weren’t worried about having enough to eat. In 2015, it was 82% of households.

“The new American Housing Survey data show clear improvements in food security between 2015 and 2019. Our hope is that the new 2019 American Housing Survey food security estimates can serve as a baseline for which to assess how American households are currently coping with the economic impacts of COVID-related job losses, which interrupted a historic period of economic growth and opportunity,” says Seth Appleton, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.

The survey also provides detailed information on the accessibility of housing for persons with disabilities. Of the 126 million households in America, nearly 16 million include at least one person who uses a wheelchair, walker or other mobility devices. For the nearly 16 million households with at least one member using a mobility device, nearly 56% report their current home layout meets their accessibility needs “very well,” while more than 4% reported their home did not meet their accessibility needs. More than 4.2 million households said they had at least one member who found it difficult to enter their home or apartment building, and 3.2 million households had at least one member who had difficulty using the kitchen. Almost 3.5 million homeowners plan to improve the accessibility of their homes.

“As the population grows older, it is important to address their needs, including home modifications to improve accessibility. This new American Housing Survey data reveal that millions of households may benefit from accessibility improvements,” says Appleton, who says some home modifications are frequently undertaken by local governments using HUD grant funds.

The American Housing Survey is funded by HUD with data collected every other year by the Census Bureau.

Home accessibility

  • Nearly 16 million households (12.9% of all) had at least one person who used a mobility device.
  • For households with at least one person using a mobility device, 55.9% said their current home’s layout met their accessibility needs “very well,” while 4.4% said it did not.
  • Of the more than 60 million households with at least two floors, 45.8% had a bedroom on the entry level and 57.3% had a full bathroom on the entry level.
  • About 3.5 million owner-occupied households planned to make home improvements to improve accessibility for people with physical limitations.

Food security

  • During the summer and fall of 2019, 85% of households had high level of food security, an increase of 3% since 2015.
  • During the summer and fall of 2019, about 13.1% of households reported their food security as “marginal” or worse.
  • During the summer and fall of 2019, about 10.4% of households said it was sometimes or often true that they were worried food would run out before getting money to buy more.

Housing costs

  • More than half (51.4%) of renter households spend 30% or more of their income on housing costs, a slight decrease from 2017 (51.8%).
  • The median rent was $909 per month while the median mortgage cost was $975.
  • The median total cost of utilities was $210. The median cost for electricity was $109 per month, and the median cost of water was $50 per month.

Household and home size

  • The median square feet per person was 700 in 2019. For Black-alone householders, the median square feet per person was 622 in 2019, an increase from 601 in 2017. For homes with Hispanic householders, the median square feet per person was 452 in 2019, an increase from 450 in 2017.
  • Almost one in four households (28 million households or 23.8%) live in homes with more people than bedrooms.

Housing quality

  • Nearly 14 million households (11.3%) saw signs of cockroaches in their home in the last 12 months, including a larger share of renters (15.9%) than owners (8.7%).
  • About 3.6 million households (3.0%) reported signs of mold in the last 12 months. Renters (4.4%) are more than twice as likely as owners (2.1%) to report signs.

Neighborhoods

  • Of 29.8 million households with a person 55 or over, 3.9 million live in age-restricted communities.
  • 80.6% of households believe their neighborhood has good schools.
  • 89.2% report no trash, litter or junk on their street or nearby properties.

Home improvement

  • Homeowners performed over 114 million home improvement projects between summer 2017 and summer 2019, costing a total of about $521.8 billion. Of these, about 42.7 million were do-it-yourself projects.
  • Over half of homeowners are estimated to have made an improvement to their home between summer 2017 and summer 2019.
  • Between 2017 and 2019, an estimated 273,000 homeowners spent about $3.7 billion on bathroom additions or renovating existing rooms to become bathrooms. The median cost per addition or renovation was $10,000. Bathroom remodels were about 20 times more common and about a third the cost, with an estimated 5.6 million homeowners spending $37.3 billion at a median cost per remodel of $3,300.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®