Jamiesfeast – The number of Americans experiencing homelessness is on the rise due to the increasing cost of rent in recent years. According to a report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, approximately 653,000 individuals reported being homeless in January 2023. This is an increase of about 12% compared to the previous year and a staggering 48% increase since 2015. Harvard researchers have noted that this is the largest annual surge in the country’s homeless population ever recorded.
Homelessness has become a pressing issue in states like California and Washington. Surprisingly, even historically more affordable parts of the U.S. such as Arizona, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas have witnessed a significant increase in their unsheltered populations. This alarming trend can be attributed to the rising local housing costs, which have made it increasingly difficult for the American people to secure a stable living situation. Unfortunately, the situation has been exacerbated by inflation in 2021 and 2022, coupled with a surging rental market that has far outpaced worker salaries.
Several factors can contribute to homelessness, including high rents and the expiration of pandemic relief last year. Researchers have found that these issues have led to a spike in housing insecurity. Additionally, there has been a growing trend of tech companies and financial institutions laying off workers.
In the early years of the pandemic, measures such as renter protections, income support, and housing assistance helped to mitigate a significant rise in homelessness. However, these protections came to an end in 2022, coinciding with a rapid increase in rents and a larger number of migrants being prohibited from working. As a result, the number of people experiencing homelessness has skyrocketed to 71,000 in just one year, according to a recent report from the United States Census.
Rent prices in the United States have been on a steady rise since 2001. According to a study conducted by Harvard researchers, it was discovered that in 2022, half of all U.S. households, regardless of their income levels, were spending between 30% and 50% of their monthly income on housing. This is classified as being “cost-burdened.” Shockingly, around 12 million tenants across the country were severely cost-burdened, with more than half of their monthly income going towards rent and utilities. This represents a 14% increase from pre-pandemic levels.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies revealed that individuals earning between $45,000 and $74,999 annually were hit hardest by the surge in rents, with an average of 41% of their paycheck going towards rent and utilities. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, tenants are generally advised to allocate no more than 30% of their income towards rent. Therefore, it raises the question: why are landlords and property management companies increasing rents beyond the recommended 30% threshold?
The monthly rent in the current rental market is showing signs of decrease. According to online housing marketplace Rent, the median rent in the U.S. was $1,964 in December 2023, which is a 23% increase from before the pandemic. This could potentially be a relief for millions of renters in the United States.