HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs Report for 2009

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of renters facing the worst need for housing increased from 5.91 million to 7.10 million people from 2007 to 2009.  About 41% of very low-income renters faced worst case need.

These increases cut across racial groups, with 48% of worst case need falling with non-Hispanic Whites and 46% with the Hispanic and Black households.  Families with children were also affected, with 550,000 new worst case families since 2007.  The household category with the highest growth in worst case need is non-elderly persons with disabilities.  Worst case, very low-income households containing persons with disabilities grew by 990,000.

The report,  “Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: Report to Congress,”  uses data from the 2007 through 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS) in order to follow trends in rents, renters and need for assistance.

HUD defines worst case need as “very low-income renters with incomes below 50 percent of the Area Median Income who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than one-half of their income for rent or lived in severely inadequate conditions, or who faced both of these challenges.”

Few affordable units and the use of affordable units by higher income families is driving up the rent and rent burdens for very low-income families.  High income persons occupy 42% of housing units affordable to the lowest income bracket.   This misallocation leads to extremely low income households competing for units above their affordability.  The competition for the higher priced units drives up rental prices and rent burdens.

The Report attributes income losses, lack of renter’s assistance, and competition for units as the main drivers behind the drastic increase in worst case need. To read more on the findings visit: