The Grim Math of the Working-Class Housing Crisis


According to statistics from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, overall homelessness in the United States declined slightly from 2011 to 2012, falling by 0.4 percent. But the number of people in homeless families actually rose over the same period, by 1.4 percent. The NAEH report states what may seem like the obvious to account for the problem: “Homelessness is essentially caused by the inability of households to pay for housing.”

That inability is mushrooming, driven by increasing rents across much of the country and wages that aren’t going anywhere. According to the NAEH, 38 states registered an increase in fair-market rents between 2010 and 2011, with the average cost of a two-bedroom rental increasing by 1.5 percent nationally. At the same time, median household income decreased by 1.3 percent nationally, with only 14 states reporting increases. The number of households spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing – more than 50 percent! – went up 5.5 percent over the same period, with some 6.5 million households exceeding that threshold.

Source: The Atlantic Cities.