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Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently released its 2020 report, Out of Reach, The High Cost of Housing. Published annually since 1989, the report details the gap between actual wages and what wages people need to earn to afford their rents, both at the national and local levels. This year’s Out of Reach report details:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on low-wage workers;
  • Rising inequality, low wages, and the widespread unaffordable cost of rental housing;
  • Racial and ethnic disparities;
  • The systemic shortage of affordable housing;
  • Federal policy to secure affordable homes; and,
  • Specific state data.

In short, the report determined that housing costs far outpace what many workers can afford. While there has been a systemic shortage of affordable rental housing for decades “[t]he economic downturn spurred by the virus further increases the risk of housing instability for millions of low-wage renters at a time when stable housing is vital.” More than 211,000 people in the U.S. are homeless on sidewalks or other unsheltered locations; another 356,000 people are experiencing homelessness in emergency shelters, according to the report. As a result of COVID-19, local governments have encouraged, and in some cases required residents to stay home. For many, the ability to quarantine and stay in isolation is limited, if not impossible. Furthermore, people of color face the greatest risks to the virus, with disproportionately high rates of homelessness and overcrowded households.


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