The Renter Squeeze: Minority and Low Income Renters Feel Pressures from Housing Boom and Weak Labor Market

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Since 1995, housing prices have boomed. At the same time, rents have risen to their highest levels in decades. In a weak labor market, many renters spend more of their incomes on paying their rents. This has put many renters, who are disproportionately lower income families, in a bind. Many renters have a harder time moving into their own homes and must spend a growing share of their incomes on rising rents. Poor and minority renters in particular also must cope with worsening public education and transportation systems. A closer look at the data shows the following:

Since 1995, when the housing boom began inflation adjusted rents have risen to their highest level in thirty years.

Rising rents come at a time of lower inflation-adjusted renter incomes. The typical income for renter families fell by 8.4 percent from 1995 to 2003.

Minorities face added obstacles in the rental market due to persistent housing discrimination.

Mobility from renting to owning has slowed. The share of owners who were renters in the previous year declined by 13 percent from 1995 to 2003.

Renters live in worse neighborhoods and lower-quality homes than owners. Renters have also experienced worsening public education, and many renters, especially African-Americans and poor families, have seen higher costs associated with transportation. The deteriorations for renters were worse than for homeowners.

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