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You surely know the rent in D.C. is too damn high, but just how much are people paying for it?
An annual report released last month by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies—The State of the Nation’s Housing—finds that a record number of American renters feel burdened by high housing costs: a whopping 20.7 million households, or 49 percent of all renters. The report defines a “cost-burdened household” as any whose residents spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Of those 20.7 million households, 11.2 million (26.5 percent of renters) have “severe cost burdens,” meaning their residents pay more than half of their incomes for housing.
In the D.C. metropolitan area (which includes the areas surrounding the District, Arlington, and Alexandria), housing costs are particularly acute: 46 percent of renters are cost-burdened, while 22.4 percent of renters have severe cost burdens. Those stats translate to 368,900 cost-burdened households in the region.
If that sounds bad, a look at the report’s breakdown of renter-households by income shows that housing costs in the D.C. metropolitan area are, frankly, regressive: 81.2 percent of households that make less than $15,000 a year are cost burdened, while only 9.2 percent of households that make more than $75,000 a year are cost burdened. (An average 70.1 percent of households making between $15,000 and $75,000 a year are cost burdened.)
Among homeowners in the area, the numbers are less severe: A quarter of homeowners have housing cost burdens, and 10 percent have severe housing cost burdens. The median income for this group is $112,000, or roughly double that of renters in the region. Housing costs are regressive for them, too: 93.3 percent of owner households making under $15,000 a year spend more than 30 percent of their income on homes, whereas 11 percent do so among $75,000-and-up-ers.
Bottom line: Living in the D.C. region is increasingly hard to afford. As the report states, “cost-burdened households are forced to cut back on food, healthcare, and other critical expenses.”
But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Screenshot from JCHS