Supply of Low-cost Rental Apartments Drops by Nearly 4 Million: Harvard Report

Originally published on July 6, 2023, by Sophia Wedeen for the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

The supply of low-cost rentals fell by 3.9 million units over the last decade, according to our latest State of the Nation’s Housing report. As a new interactive tool (Figure 1) released in conjunction with the report shows, the supply of low-cost rentals decreased in every single state, leaving lower- and middle-income renters with even fewer housing options they can afford.

The supply of low-rent units has fallen continuously in the past decade due to rent increases in existing units, tenure conversions out of the rental stock, building condemnations, and demolitions. Adjusting for inflation, the number of units with contract rents below $600 fell from 11.9 million to 8.0 million between 2011 and 2021. A $600 rent is the maximum amount affordable to households who make $24,000 annually. Additionally, the market lost 1.5 million units with rents between $600 and $799, and 980,000 units with rents between $800 and $1,000 in the same years.  

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