Worst Case Rental Housing Needs in the Washington, DC MSA

In the Washington, DC metropolitan area in 1998, the most recent year for which data are available from the American Housing Survey, 54,300 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 Washington, DC, was $36,200 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 Washington, DC area:

  • those with worst-case needs are 9 percent of renters and 3 percent of all households. Some 41 percent of the eligible unassisted very-low-income renters have worst case needs. In 1997, 52 percent of eligible renters in the U.S., and 59 percent of eligible renters in the Northeast, had worst case needs.
  • 18,500 of the 54,300 households with worst case needs are families with children, and at least 11,700 other households have elderly or disabled members.
  • 86 percent of the worst case heads of households that are not elderly or disabled are working.
  • 60 percent of the worst case households are minorities.
  • 51,200 are paying over half their income for rent, while 6,200 live in severely inadequate housing.
  • fully 86 percent of those with worst case needs live in adequate, uncrowded housing, with severe rent burden as their only housing problem.
  • most - 78 percent - of those with worst case needs have incomes below 30 percent of area median income, which in 1998 was $21,700 per year for a four-person household.

The Washington, DC 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 82 units they could afford. And since many of these units were occupied by higher-income renters, only 39 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 changed for this MSA from those included in the previous American Housing Survey in 1993. Therefore, comparable data on change over time are not available at this time.


Content Archived: December 13, 2009