IYI Logo

Rental Burdens: Rethinking Affordability Measures


How much of your income should you set aside for rent? With the cost of housing on the rise, researchers are reexamining the 30-percent rule of thumb for measuring rental burden.

In July 2014, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard Universityreleased a study finding that nearly half of all renter households in the United States were cost burdened in 2012. This interactive map shows that people living along the east and west coasts and in urban areas bear the greatest cost burdens. HUD defines cost-burdened families as those “who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing” and “may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.” Severe rent burden is defined as paying more than 50 percent of one’s income on rent.


Source: U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (2014). Rental Burdens: Rethinking Affordability Measures.