[7/8/17/] Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.
Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.
But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.
And despite the overall economic recovery, it’s only a small improvement from 2014, going down by about 900,000 households.
When people can’t safely afford to pay their mortgages and rent, it isn’t just a problem for those with a lower income or people who bit off more house than they can chew.
Housing unaffordability also drags down GDP, slowing down overall economic growth for everyone, said Dan McCue, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, which publishes the annual State of the Nation’s Housing report.
“It forces them to constrict spending on other items, which would reduce spending on other parts of the economy. They would buy less, save less, reduce savings,” said McCue.