You’re interested in affordable housing but can’t seem to find what you’re looking for in your city or state? This begs the question, is affordable housing available in every city in the US?
Whether you want to learn more about an affordable home, or you’re actively looking to house yourself and your family in a low-income rental, we look at affordable housing options and where to find an income-compatible property to suit your needs.
What Exactly is Affordable Housing?
Affordable housing is defined as homes that can be afforded by a sectional community or group of people who fall below the median income for the state. According to this definition, you can see that housing affordability will differ depending on the state you live in because of differences in median income.
*Median income is defined as dividing the median income of a population into two. One half earns above the amount while the other half earns below the same amount.
Affordable homes and apartments have remained a hot topic in the US because of the ongoing demand for them. It is not a secret that affordable homes are in short supply. From 2018 to 2019, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released a report indicating that minimum wage earners were simply unable to afford a standard two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the US.
Thousands of people in the US are affected by ongoing housing debacles and that includes low-income earners and cost-burdened households.
Research shows us that half of the renting population in the country are considered cost-burdened, spending over 30 percent of their earnings on their monthly rent. And surprisingly affordability is not only affecting people in traditional neighborhoods but also those living along the coast.
One of the problems with affordable housing is that the growth rate of properties across the nation is doubling compared to the rate at which wages are increasing. This makes it harder for households to afford their rent in homes they might have been staying in for years.
These factors are part of the reason that the need for affordable apartments and homes to rent has increased.
Let’s take a look at the rentals that fall within the low-income or affordable housing category.
What are Your Options for Affordable Housing in the US?
There are many types of affordable homes, which can be confusing when looking at the rentals that are available to you.
Subsidized housing, previously known as Section 8, is income-based per household and includes government-issued “housing vouchers” that are used to subsidize all or part of the rent.
Affordable homes are available for those who fall below the state or city’s median income so future tenants can expect a monthly rent that is suitable for their income.
You can learn more about the different types of affordable rentals by visiting Affordable Housing Help for Families. We provide a breakdown of low-income renting and what to expect from qualifying housing.
Is Affordable Housing in Every City?
The main question that individuals and households want the answer to is, can one can expect affordable or low-income homes in every state? Out of the 50 states in the US, only around 15 offer more than 46 affordable homes or rentals. In total, there are 37 low-cost rentals available per 100 low-income qualifying households.
Each region offers some type of economical rental for interested tenants with states such as Texas and Arizona providing the lowest number of affordable housing options. It is also important to remember that low cost or affordable renting is determined by the state median income. This median rate will differ between regions, so the best way to determine affordability is to consider the number of ‘affordable rentals’ available, the median income for the city, and the general cost of living. These factors can go a long way to helping you find a qualifying house or apartment that is better suited to your finances and lifestyle.
The Problem with Limited Low-Cost Housing Availability
Let’s say that you work in California but your salary has been cut owing to poor company performance. You consider affordable housing to provide for your family, but the state offers the lowest rates of available economic rentals. This scenario places such an individual in a difficult position. Do you up and move to find cost-effective rentals or do you try to fight becoming cost-burdened and carry the risk of not affording your rent?
When there is insufficient housing supply, it places many individuals and their families in challenging circumstances.
Alternatives to Low-Cost Housing
Alternatives to pursuing low-income renting include rent assistance programs. Rent assist is offered by the government and federal housing services with the purpose of helping those who have fallen on hard times and are at risk of losing their homes. It is a temporary measure, but for some, it could mean the difference between living in an affordable home or facing the consequences of eviction.
Let’s take a closer look at the top rates states offering affordable housing.
The Top 10 States for Affordable Housing
To determine which states provide the best low-cost and economical rental solutions, you need to understand the median income for the state, the cost of living, and factors such as home loan interest rates and the performance of property values. These will help you assess overall affordability including the rates at which rent increases in response to surrounding property value.
States qualifying as offering affordable homes to rent in 2019 include:
10. South Dakota
8. West Virginia
6. North Dakota
Nebraska is described as a state offering improved equality among income levels while Iowa received the top rank for both low-cost housing and a more affordable cost of living.
Other states where you can also find apartments to rent include Tennessee offering an average of 47 affordable rentals per 100 low-income families, and Mississippi providing around 61 affordable homes for every 100 low-cost households.
Finding a home, you can afford takes some time and research but with comparisons of rent and the cost of living, you are sure to find the right home to suit your needs.
Can I Find Low-Income Rentals in Good Neighborhoods?
There are two types of affordable housing. One where you’ll find apartments in outlying areas or less desirable neighborhoods and another where low-income properties are available to rent in decent areas, close to schools and other amenities. It all depends on your affordability and where you are looking to rent.
Although the affordable housing stereotype remains rife; modern developments provided by interested investors are seeing a transformation in the way low-cost homes look and are treated. Dedication to tenants has been prioritized including the safety of the community and the residents. The Government is also focused on developing property closer to popular areas in the city making it easier for more people to access homes they can afford in areas they want to live in.
Until then, only with an exploration of the different types of properties available can you find a place to live that will relieve your financial stress and pressure.
The Importance of Housing Affordability
Who should consider affordable housing to rent?
· You are living paycheck to paycheck
· You cannot manage your rent and living expenses
· You’re cost-burdened
· You’re concerned you cannot keep up with rent and you’ll be evicted
These and many other factors are important reasons to consider what an affordable rental can do for you and your family. Whether you rent a low-cost home for the next year or three years, use the opportunity to overcome financial challenges. You may be surprised at what you can save to buy a house even on a low income.
It’s about doing what you need to today, to secure your future tomorrow.
Do You Qualify for an Affordable Place to Rent?
Low income and affordable housing are all about how much you earn. If you fall below the median income for your state and you need assistance, you could qualify for the many rent assistance programs offered through government and not-for-profit organizations. You could also qualify if you currently spend more than 30% of your income on rent and are considered cost-burdened.
To learn more about qualifying criteria, check out: Affordable Housing: Do I Qualify?
Making the Right Move
Renting a home shouldn't leave you cost-burdened and it certainly shouldn't keep you up at night. If you need to move to a place you can afford, carefully research your options from local neighborhoods to amenities, and how you can save for your future.