Rental market conditions in the United States have changed significantly since the Great Recession, according to America’s Rental Housing 2020, a new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The report explicates the increasing difficulty many middle-income Americans have trying to pay the rent. With higher-income households accounting for a big chunk of the growth in rental demand since 2010, new supply has been concentrated at the upper end of the market. The report notes, for example, that households with incomes of $75,000 and above accounted for more than three-quarters of the growth in renters (3.2 million) from 2010 to 2018. Meanwhile, rising demand and constricted supply have reduced the stock of low- and moderate-cost rental units, leaving modest-income Americans squeezed. This shift has significantly altered the profile of the typical renter household and, nationwide, a growing number of renters with incomes between $30,000 and $75,000 are now considered to be “cost-burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30% of their income for housing. More alarming still, a majority of the lowest-income renters spend more than half their monthly income on housing. The upshot is an increase in homelessness, particularly in high-cost states.
Climate change can also be added to the mix of factors posing a threat to the stability of American households that rent. According to the report, 10.5 million of the country’s 43.7 million renter households live in zip codes that incurred at least $1 million in home and business losses due to natural disasters between 2008 and 2018.
As for New Jersey-specific data, the report categorizes the share of Newark’s and Jersey City’s cost-burdened renter households along with those in New York City at 50.7%. In the Camden (plus Philadelphia and Wilmington) catchment area, the share is 49.7%. In Trenton it’s 48.8%. And in Vineland-Bridgeton, it’s 66.7%, representing 11,306 households. The median renter household income there is $25,000 while median renter monthly housing costs are $1,075.