Worst Case Rental Housing Needs in the Birmingham MSA

In the Birmingham metropolitan area in 1998, the most recent year for which data are available from the American Housing Survey, 13,100 households had "worst case" needs for rental housing assistance. These estimates do not include the homeless.

Households are considered to have worst case needs for housing assistance when they:

  • are renters with incomes below 50 percent of area median income (which, in Birmingham, was $22,000 for a four-person household in 1998);
  • either pay over half their income for rent or live in severely inadequate housing; and
  • are not assisted by Federal, state, or local housing assistance programs.

In the Birmingham area:

  • those with worst-case needs are 12 percent of renters and 4 percent of all households. Some 51 percent of the eligible unassisted very-low-income renters have worst case needs. In 1997, 52 percent of eligible unassisted renters in the U.S., and 46 percent of eligible renters in the South, had worst case needs.
  • 5,100 of the 13,100 households with worst case needs are families with children, and at least 3,700 other households have elderly or disabled members.
  • 68 percent of the worst case heads of household that are not elderly or disabled are working.
  • 51 percent of the worst case households are minorities.
  • 12,600 are paying over half their income for rent, while 900 live in severely inadequate housing.
  • fully 73 percent of those with worst case needs live in adequate, uncrowded housing, with severe rent burden as their only housing problem.
  • most - 79 percent - of those with worst case needs have incomes below 30 percent of area median income, which in 1998 was $13,200 per year for a four-person household.

The Birmingham area had less severe shortages of housing affordable to renters with incomes below 30 percent of median than generally found. In 1998, for every 100 renter households with these "extremely low" incomes, there were technically 98 units they could afford. But since many of these units were occupied by higher-income renters, only 52 units were both affordable and available for every 100 extremely-low-income renters.

Preliminary HUD analysis of the Birmingham housing market, which will be redone because of changes in boundaries, shows that between 1998 and 1992, the year of the previous AHS survey:

  • the number of households with worst case needs rose by 30 percent.
  • the number of renters with incomes below 30 percent of area median fell by 11 percent, while the number of units affordable to them plunged by 37 percent.
  • the shortage of housing affordable to extremely-low-income renters worsened over the six years, falling from 131 to 98 units for every 100 renters.


Content Archived: December 13, 2009