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November 19, 2002 - The White House Bulletin

Report Finds 30 Percent Jump In Number Of Working Families That Spend Over Half Their Income On Housing

The National Housing Conference's (NHC) Center for Housing Policy released a study this morning which found that "in just two years there has been a dramatic 30 percent rise in the number of working families that spend more than half their income on housing." In addition, "The analysis of federal data from 1997 to 2001 also found that there has been more than a 60 percent rise in only four years in the number of working families with critical housing needs, that is, those families who pay more than half their income for housing, and, or, live in physically substandard housing. This problem affects both working homeowners and renters. Yet, in 2001 working families with critical housing needs were more likely to be homeowners than renters at 53 percent versus 47 percent. Working families are defined as low- to moderate- income families that work the equivalent of a full-time job and earn between the minimum wage of $10,712 and up to 120 percent of the median income in their area." The NHC also found, "In 1997 roughly 3 million low- to moderate-income working families had critical housing needs. By 2001 this number had risen to 4.8 million, and represents a disturbing trend that has a profound impact on the economic and social well-being of the nation. Specifically, over the past two years housing has played an integral role in helping shore up an otherwise weakened economy. Although the homeownership rate is close to its all-time high, the growing number of owners who are now spending more than half of their incomes on housing threatens to undermine the significant progress that has been made recently in helping working families fulfill the American dream."

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, President of the US Conference of Mayors, said in a statement, "This report shows that now, more than ever before, it is clear that the housing crisis is not going away and that without a major new national commitment to housing production, the crisis is only going to get worse. As President of the United States Conference of Mayors, I have made putting the workforce housing issue back on Washington's front burner a major priority. This study...makes the case for expanding housing production to our Congressional leaders when they return to Washington in 2003."