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HUD Releases Report on Assisted Rental Units

Who is Served? How have the Programs Evolved?

Crystal Wojciechowski, PHADA Policy Analyst

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) released a report entitled “Characteristics of HUD-Assisted Renters and Their Units in 2017” in March 2020. The report is the ninth in a series of studies dating back to 1989 that utilize American Housing Survey (AHS) information to characterize the 4.5 million assisted rental units and their occupants in 2017. The report examines rental unit location, year-built, size, structure type and quality, as well as the characteristics of their occupants (including race, ethnicity, age, education, income, household compensation, and satisfaction with their living environment).

The 2017 AHS data, with assistance from data from the U.S. Census Bureau, included a supplemental survey of rental units receiving subsidies from programs administered by HUD. The samples contained 4,728 assisted units which were then compared with two control groups: all rental units and all rental units occupied by very low-income households (VLI), or households with incomes not exceeding 50 percent of local median income, adjusted for household size. The report also utilized information from previous research efforts to analyze how the HUD-assisted rental stock has changed over the last three decades.

Overall, the report found that from 1991 to 2017, the number of HUD-assisted units increased by 12 percent (or approximately 500,000 units), while the number of very low-income households increased nearly 16 percent. As a result, the percentage of VLI households receiving assistance fell from 24.9 to 24.2 percent. According to the report, most of the decline in the percentage of VLI households receiving assistance occurred during the 2007–2011 period. The financial crisis in 2007 caused a sharp increase in the number of renter households and an even sharper increase in the number of renter households with low incomes.


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