The city is building and preserving more affordable housing than ever, but federal programs remain the most effective tool for supporting the poorest households, according to a report released Thursday.
The Citizens Budget Commission analyzed a recent housing survey and found that around 44% of households pay more than 30% of their income in rent—after accounting for government subsidies such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Section 8 housing vouchers.
The 30% rule, the federal standard for being rent-burdened, is an imperfect measurement. High earners could spend a third of their income on rent and still have money left over for luxuries; but some low-income residents, who make up the lion's share of the rent-burdened, can be hard-pressed to pay for necessities if 30% of their earnings go toward rent.
As the report notes, many of the poorest residents spend an even higher percentage of income on housing. About 22% of city households, predominantly made up of low-income senior citizens and single parents, were found to be severely rent-burdened, meaning they devote more than half of every paycheck to rent.