Low-income Americans are experiencing a staggering price hike in housing costs — a change that makes it sometimes impossible to afford basic necessities.
A new Pew Charitable Trusts analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2013, low-income Americans spent a median of $6,897 on housing. In 2014, that rose to $9,178 — the biggest jump in housing spending for the 19-year period of data that Pew studied.
The cost of other necessities, like transportation and food, also rose, albeit not as dramatically. 2014 was the first year that Pew studied in which median spending on these three categories was higher than the median income for those in the lower third of income groups.
The chart makes it pretty stark:
As you can see, in 2014 for the lowest third of Americans, median income dropped below the cost of rent, food, and transportation combined.
Rent for low-income Americans has never been higher because the supply of affordable housing has cratered with the return of the high-end housing market, and Americans are going back to work, but for less pay. Millennials can't afford starter homes, and Gen X'ers got wiped out in the Great Recession. They're barely holding on. Finally, look at how many states are cutting low-income housing programs across the board.
So yeah, the housing market in most places is still completely broken and will remain that way for some time.