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  • Writer's pictureFCRHA

Severely Cash-Strapped Renters at Record High in U.S.

Data Show Worsening Situation for America’s Very Low-Income Renters

More than eight and one-half (8.53) million households had “Worst Case” housing needs in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a record high since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began tracking the data in 1978.

“Worst Case” is defined by HUD as very low-income renter households at less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income level and who lacks housing assistance. This cohort also has housing expenses that exceed half of the household’s income or reside in a home with severe physical inadequacies, or both.

According to the report, ”Demographic and pandemic-related economic factors greatly increased the number of very low-income renters needing affordable housing units, increasing competition and driving up rents in a housing market that has long acted only partially and slowly to meet the housing needs of this very low-income renter population, which accounts for about 15 percent of U.S. households.”

While Fairfax County does not have local data on Worst Case renters, the 2022 Rental Housing Complex Analysis underscores that the average rent has been increasing. Average monthly rent increased approximately ten percent during the past five years locally. In 2018, average rent was $1,788/month in Fairfax County. This increased to $1,958/month in 2022.

Fairfax County offers a variety of affordable rental programs for people with low and moderate incomes. Anyone who needs emergency housing is encouraged to call Fairfax County’s Coordinated Services Planning at 703-222-0880 (TTY 711).

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