Worst Case Rental Housing Needs in the Boston MSA

In the Boston metropolitan area in 1998, the most recent year for which data are available from the American Housing Survey, 68,500 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 Boston, was $30,000 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 Boston area:

  • those with worst-case needs are 14 percent of renters and 5 percent of all households. Some 63 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 59 percent of eligible renters in the Northeast, had worst case needs.
  • 19,600 of the 68,500 households with worst case needs are families with children, and at least 21,100 other households have elderly or disabled members.
  • 80 percent of the worst case heads of households that are not elderly or disabled are working.
  • 21 percent of the worst case households are minorities.
  • 65,900 are paying over half their income for rent, while 4,700 live in severely inadequate housing.
  • fully 85 percent of those with worst case needs live in adequate, uncrowded housing, with severe rent burden as their only housing problem.
  • most - 70 percent - of those with worst case needs have incomes below 30 percent of area median income, which in 1998 was $18,000 per year for a four-person household.

The Boston area had severe shortages of housing affordable to renters with incomes below 30 percent of median. In 1998, for every 100 renter households with these "extremely low" incomes, there were only 73 units they could afford. And since many of these units were occupied by higher-income renters, only 41 units were both affordable and available for every 100 extremely-low-income renters.

The boundaries of the geographical area surveyed by the American Housing Survey in 1998 changed for this MSA from those included in the previous American Housing Survey in 1993. Therefore, data on change over time are not available at this time.


Content Archived: December 13, 2009