Decoding the housing crisis

A public data project to track and analyze the rental housing shortage across the country, highlighting where additional units are needed most.

Shortage statistics for households earning less than 50% AMI
21
states with severe shortage
75%
of households rent-burdened
4.5M
total shortage of affordable units

County-level shortage data by income group

The lowest income households are feeling the most strain.
Different studies define the shortage differently with the total number ranging from 1.7 million to 7.3 million, depending on the type of housing and population group they are focusing on. We restricted our study to the rental market, and looked at the state of housing from the overall national level to individual county-level statistics.
Despite the nearly one million unit surplus nationally, the map clearly points out a pattern: most surplus units are in locations where jobs are scarce and depopulation is common, whereas the densely-populated coastal and metro areas are facing an extreme shortage.
Why 4.5 million units?
For the lowest-income groups (those earning under 50% AMI), the number of units missing to adequately house them is 4.5 million, nationally. These renter households feel the most acute socio-economic impacts of the shortage, and if left to market forces, they will be hard-pressed to find  affordable housing units in the most economically viable areas.

With an uptick in new construction, ideally a trickle-down effect should ensure that when higher income households move into new housing, their vacated older units become available to lower-income households. However, this chain usually breaks before the lowest-income households benefit as these units are either rehabilitated into market-rate housing, are put to different use or simply abandoned.  

Terminology & calculations

SUPPLY
Total number of currently available renter households for a certain income group in a given area.
DEMAND
Total rental units needed to affordably house every household within a certain income group in a given area.
SUPPLY & DEMAND RATIO
Number of units available and affordable to each 100 households of a certain income group in a given area.
SHORTAGE
Supply minus demand. Total number of rental units missing to affordably house every household within a certain income group.
SHORTAGE Severity
Based on the supply & demand ratio, we have created a grading system to quickly identify where the shortage is most acute, defining them as severe, moderate, balanced, and in surplus.
Extremely low income (ELI)
Households earning less than 30% AMI (area median income)
Very low income (VLI)
Households earning between 30–50% AMI.
Low income (LI)
Households earning between 51–80% AMI. Housing rent-capped or otherwise affordably priced with costs staying under 30% these groups' total household income is called 'affordable housing'.
MOderate Income (MI)
Households earning between 81–120% AMI. Housing affordable for this group is called 'worfkforce housing'.
Middle & Upper Income (MUI)
All income groups earning above 120% AMI. In our study, we have banded together the middle- and upper-income households.

Rental housing statistics by income group

Extremely low-income households (<30% AMI)
Due to market pressures and the general scarcity of rent-regulated housing, the majority of ELI households are forced to rent at prices that are unaffordable for them, meaning they spend more than one third of their income on housing costs. This income group is the most acutely affected by the housing shortage with all but three states facing a severe shortage on the aggregate level, and even on the county level, problems are not limited to metro areas but are being felt even in rural communities.
3.6 M
total shortage of units
48 states
facing a severe shortage
78%
of households rent-burdened
Very low-income households (31–50% AMI)
Those earning between 31–50% AMI are facing similar difficulties to the ELI income group: there aren’t enough available units for them to rent at lower prices so they eventually take up units from the higher-rent stock. On an aggregate national level, a total 18% of the VLI group are rent-burdened, however, the real number is higher. Given the acute shortage within the ELI group, a large portion of units that would be adequately priced for the VLI group will actually go to the ELI group, starting a snowball effect where both groups are forced to pay rent above the price range deemed affordable to them.
0.9 M
total shortage of units
12 states
with severe shortage
20 states
with moderate shortage
72%
of households rent-burdened
Low-income households (51–80% AMI)
While on an aggregate national level there doesn’t seem to be any shortage, once we break it down to the county-level data, it becomes clear that the shortage is still severe in the metro areas and the more populous counties where there’s also added pressure from both the two lower income groups (ELI & VLI) that are facing hardships to find adequately priced rental units, as well from the middle- & upper-income groups to take up available units from the existing supply. Although the Census data shows us a whopping five million units of surplus nationally,the bulk of these surplus units are located in areas where population density is already low or where a population flight is happening.
5.1 M
surplus of available units
Moderate, middle & upper-income households (>80% AMI)
Those earning over 80% of the area median income have the most flexibility to find adequately priced rental units that they can afford, however, the shortage is evident in densely populated metro areas where competition for available units will outprice everyone but the highest income residents.
0.4 M
surplus of available units
Extremely low-income households (<30% AMI)
Due to market pressures and the general scarcity of rent-regulated housing, the majority of ELI households are forced to rent at prices that are unaffordable for them, meaning they spend more than one third of their income on housing costs. This income group is the most acutely affected by the housing shortage with all but three states facing a severe shortage on the aggregate level, and even on the county level, problems are not limited to metro areas but are being felt even in rural communities.
3.6 M
total shortage of units
48 states
facing a severe shortage
78%
of households rent-burdened
Very low-income households (31–50% AMI)
Those earning between 31–50% AMI are facing similar difficulties to the ELI income group: there aren’t enough available units for them to rent at lower prices so they eventually take up units from the higher-rent stock. On an aggregate national level, a total 18% of the VLI group are rent-burdened, however, the real number is higher. Given the acute shortage within the ELI group, a large portion of units that would be adequately priced for the VLI group will actually go to the ELI group, starting a snowball effect where both groups are forced to pay rent above the price range deemed affordable to them.
0.9 M
total shortage of units
12 states
facing a severe shortage
20 states
moderate shortage
72%
of households rent-burdened
Low-income households (51–80% AMI)
While on an aggregate national level there doesn’t seem to be any shortage, once we break it down to the county-level data, it becomes clear that the shortage is still severe in the metro areas and the more populous counties where there’s also added pressure from both the two lower income groups (ELI & VLI) that are facing hardships to find adequately priced rental units, as well from the middle- & upper-income groups to take up available units from the existing supply. Although the Census data shows us a whopping five million units of surplus nationally,the bulk of these surplus units are located in areas where population density is already low or where a population flight is happening.
5.1 M
surplus of available units
Middle- & upper income households (>80% AMI)
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0.4 M
surplus of available units

Rental housing statistics for ELI & VLI households

Shortage of affordable housing
#
State
Missing units
S&D ratio
1.
Nevada
76,938
32.4
2.
Puerto Rico
79,323
34.5
3.
Florida
393,923
38.9
4.
New Jersey
185,037
44.0
5.
California
854,839
44.2
Rent-burdened population
#
State
Households
% share
1.
Florida
1,455,030
53.2
2.
California
3,030,934
51.5
3.
Hawaii
95,133
51.0
4.
Colorado
369,886
49.0
5.
New York
1,675,997
48.8
Rental population
#
State
Households
% share
1.
District of Columbia
181,384
58.5
2.
New York
3,434,514
45.6
3.
California
5,882,339
44.5
4.
Nevada
482,281
42.2
5.
Hawaii
186,599
39.0
ELI & VLI (<50% AMI) population
#
State
Households
% share
1.
Puerto Rico
121,056
31.6
2.
District of Columbia
54,201
29.9
3.
Massachusetts
296,517
29.1
4.
New York
983,900
28.6
5.
Rhode Island
44,198
27.5
S&D ratio = Supply & Demand Ratio
[ # of unit available & affordable for each 100 household ]
List of states
Rental population
ELI & VLI (<50% AMI)
Rent-burdened
Affordable housing
Name
Households
% share
Households
% share
Households
% share
Shortage of units
S&D ratio
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Source: US Census Data, American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year Estimates 2021
Alabama
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Alaska
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Arizona
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Arkansas
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
California
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Colorado
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Connecticut
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Delaware
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
District of Columbia
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Florida
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Georgia
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Hawaii
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Idaho
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Illinois
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Indiana
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Iowa
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Kansas
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Kentucky
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Louisiana
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Maine
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Maryland
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Massachusetts
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Michigan
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Minnesota
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Mississippi
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Missouri
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Montana
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Nebraska
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Nevada
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
New Hampshire
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
New Jersey
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
New Mexico
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
New York
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
North Carolina
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
North Dakota
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Ohio
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Oklahoma
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Oregon
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Pennsylvania
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Puerto Rico
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Rhode Island
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
South Carolina
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
South Dakota
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Tennessee
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Texas
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Utah
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Vermont
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Virginia
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Washington
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
West Virginia
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Wisconsin
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
Wyoming
Renter households
Low-income households
Rent-burdened households
Shortage of units
We are on a mission to get housing affordability back on track!
At Builders Patch, we are committed to speeding up the creation of affordable housing through faster financing. Let’s join forces to build more affordable housing for our communities!

To find out what motivated us to start Builders Patch, a software tailor-made for affordable housing finance, check out our background story on our mission page.
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