News Round-Up: Doubling Up

This week’s news round-up shows the affects our nation’s high rental costs have on families and communities.

According to the Coalition, Maryland is the 4th most expensive state for rental housing in the country. The Sentinel reports that many Maryland households are “doubling up” in response, putting a strain on households and putting more families at risk of homelessness.

Both the New York Times editorial page editor’s blog and the MSNBC Lean Forward blog posted NLIHC’s popular minimum wage map last week. Andrew Rosenthal of the Times  points out that “there are plenty of single-parent households as well as families where, for various reasons, only one member is able to work,” making the comparison between two-bedroom apartment rents and what minimum wage earners can afford relevant to the policy debate, and the presidential election.

It is easy to predict the result of this disparity between wages and rents: low income Americans are desperate for rental housing they can afford. In Sacramento, the county housing authority plans to open its Housing Choice Voucher waiting list this week. The housing authority has just 3,000 spaces open on its waiting list, and while housing authority staff have no way of predicting how many applications they will receive, they expect many individuals and families will be interested. The last time the list opened up, 35,000 applications were received.

Long-term un- and underemployment lead to cost burden among renters, but even an improving economy can put stress on the rental market. In inland California, the rental occupancy rate is up, as are rents. An economist quoted in this article suggests that as the job market improves, people who have doubled up are starting to use their new income to move into the rental market on their own, making affordable apartments even more scarce.

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