America's Rental Housing 2024 Report Summary

Posted By: Emma Carrasco News,

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) recently hosted a webinar announcing the release of America's Rental Housing 2024 report. The webinar featured an insightful panel discussion with Chris Herbert (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies), Pete Cannava (Wells Fargo), Ethan Handelman (HUD), and Jacqueline Waggoner (Enterprise Community Partners). 

Low-income renters and homeowners share similar struggles when it comes to dealing with housing quality issues. Through advocacy that is supported by data, the Coalition for Home Repair strives to demonstrate that home repair/rehabilitation programs are integral solutions to the housing crisis for low-income households. 

The key takeaways from America’s Rental Housing 2024 report as they relate to the Coalition’s work and mission are:

A major finding of the report is that affordability is worse than ever before, with 22.4 million renter households spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities in 2022 (an increase of 2 million households over three years). Moreover, rental supply increases but millions of low-rent units are lost. A record number of people are experiencing homelessness; the need for rental assistance transcends availability. 

“Despite improvements in building codes and construction standards, as well as upgrades and repairs to existing units, 3.9 million renter households lived in homes that did not meet basic standards for suitability and safety in 2021.” However, this already large figure does not include those meeting the criteria for physical adequacy but having unmet repair needs — the report cites the updated $51.5 billion dollar amount (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, 2023) needed to address the physical deficiencies of the occupied rental stock.

“Because part of housing supply is preserving what we have... It is one of the most powerful things we can do...” - Ethan Handelman, HUD

Figure 15 illustrates who is likely to live in inadequate housing. Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native households disproportionately experience living in substandard, inadequate housing. Households with lower incomes are more likely to occupy substandard units, which tend to have lower rents.

  • Accessibility: Nearly half of (47%) renters with disabilities state their homes are minimally or not at all accessible, according to this study

  • Aging stock: Physical inadequacy from disrepair and structural deterioration is much more common in older homes — the rental stock is older than it has ever been, at a median age of 44 years. 

  • Increasing threats: More than 18 million occupied rental units (41 percent) are located in areas with substantial expected losses from weather and climate related hazards such as wildfires, flooding, earthquakes, and hurricanes. More often are insurers declining coverage in high-risk housing markets.

  • Public housing: There is a critical need for more resources to address needed repairs and improvements to preserve public housing — there is a maintenance backlog estimated at $90 billion for 835,000 households.

  • Rising costs: The slowing growth in operating incomes (rising operating costs, high interest rates, increasing insurance costs) will make it more difficult for property owners to invest in or afford urgently needed repairs, accessibility features, and climate change mitigations and adaptations. 

You can access the webinar recording, full report, and interactive maps and data here

The report emphasized a growing need for an all-hands on deck approach to adequately respond to the alarming findings impacting low-income households. We intend to continue advocating, to the highest degree, how essential it is to consider home repair as a proactive solution to preventing homelessness, stabilizing entire communities, and improving the health and safety for all. However, we can go further with your support. Please consider following along and participating in our advocacy journey by signing up for updates here.