“Housing is a human right,” Julián Castro, the former Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, wrote in the preamble to his “People First Housing” platform in June. He’s one of a few Democratic contenders who have spoken about affordable housing in recent weeks, an issue that’s historically received limited attention on the campaign trail. But housing’s newfound importance makes good sense: As In These Times has noted, the economic prospects for everyday Americans are hardly sunny, even after the putative rebounds made by the nation since the Great Recession.
While there are ample reasons to doubt the progressive promises made by the likes of Castro, the need to address the shortage of affordable housing could not be more real. And with the recent release of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report on the gap between wage-earners and rent prices, now is an important moment for candidates to outline their plans to address the issue. Here are 10 statistics that outline the U.S. housing crisis:
- 24.7%: U.S. renters who spend more than half their income on rent.
- 49.5%: Those who spend more than the federal threshold of “affordable” (30% of income).
- 7,000,000: Nationwide shortage of affordable homes for low-income renters.
- 552,830: People experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2018.
- 7,400,000: Americans forced to move in with friends or family.
- 32%: Increase in median rent from 2001 to 2015.
- 97%: Increase in the number of homes renting for $2,000 or more between 2005 and 2015.
- 80%: U.S. markets where home prices are growing faster than wages.
- 1%: U.S. counties where a fair-market one-bedroom rental home is affordable for a full-time minimum-wage worker.
- 103: Weekly hours worked at minimum wage needed to afford a one-bedroom home at national average fair-market rent.
Many nonprofits have seen a big dip in support in the first part of 2021, and here at In These Times, donation income has fallen by more than 20% compared to last year. For a lean publication like ours, a drop in support like that is a big deal.
After everything that happened in 2020, we don't blame anyone for wanting to take a break from the news. But the underlying causes of the overlapping crises that occurred last year remain, and we are not out of the woods yet. The good news is that progressive media is now more influential and important than ever—but we have a very small window to make change.
At a moment when so much is at stake, having access to independent, informed political journalism is critical. To help get In These Times back on track, we’ve set a goal to bring in 500 new donors by July 31. Will you be one of them?