Housing Costs Burdensome for Some Groups

By Mackin, Jeanne | Human Ecology Forum, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview
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Housing Costs Burdensome for Some Groups

Mackin, Jeanne, Human Ecology Forum

Although the cost of housing has increased in recent years, some groups are more likely to pay excessive housing costs than others, report Peter S. K. Chi, professor of consumer economics and housing, and Joseph Laquatra, associate professor of design and environmental analysis.

According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, household expenditures devoted to housing costs were 16.4 percent in 1972 but had increased to 31 percent by 1987. This increase was not equally shared.

The weight of excessive housing costs fell disproportionately on low-income households, renters, minorities, unmarried female-headed households, and families with many children.

"Rising housing costs tend to affect low-income households more than other types of households, Chi and Laquatra report.

Low-income renters saw their housing costs increase significantly. In 1987 a median of 29 percent of income was paid for housing costs by renters, while the corresponding figure for homeowners was 18 percent. More than three times as many low-income renters as low-income homeowners spent over half of their incomes on housing.

Families with children also took a beating in today's more expensive housing market.

"Among all types of American households, it has been found that those facing the greatest difficulty in locating affordable housing are renter households comprising single, minority, and female-headed households with children," Chi and Laquatra report.

Policies that exclude children, together with racial discrimination, gentrification, and urban revitalization programs that replace low-cost units with higher-priced ones, make it increasingly difficult for many families to locate affordable rental units.

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