High Housing Cost Numbers Improve; Disparities Persist

Posted April 16, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Updates High Housing Cost 2019

When hous­ing costs are too high — account­ing for more than 30% of a family’s month­ly income — par­ents and kids alike face challenges.

For­tu­nate­ly, the per­cent­age of kids whose fam­i­lies are grap­pling with high hous­ing costs con­tin­ues to fall. But racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties per­sist — and some states are fac­ing steep­er chal­lenges than others.

Nation­wide, the share of chil­dren in fam­i­lies with high hous­ing cost bur­dens peaked as the reces­sion came to an end, hit­ting 41% (30,107,000 kids) in 2010. Since that time, this rate has fall­en annu­al­ly — dip­ping to 31% (22,908,000 kids) in 2017.

Also encour­ag­ing: From 2016 to 2017, the per­cent­age of chil­dren in high-hous­ing-cost fam­i­lies either stayed the same or fell slight­ly across all racial and eth­nic groups. Yet, African-Amer­i­can (45%) and Lati­no (42%) chil­dren are still more like­ly to grow up in fam­i­lies bur­dened by hous­ing costs when com­pared to the nation’s total child pop­u­la­tion (31%).

At the state lev­el, four loca­tions — Cal­i­for­nia (43%), New York (40%), Flori­da (38%) and New Jer­sey (37%) — have the high­est pro­por­tion of chil­dren affect­ed by high hous­ing costs. These four states are home to more than one-third of the nation’s chil­dren — over 7.8 mil­lion kids total — who are liv­ing in fam­i­lies bur­dened by hous­ing costs.

Look­ing at these states more close­ly, the data indi­cate that a large pro­por­tion of African Amer­i­can chil­dren in Cal­i­for­nia (53%) and Flori­da (50%) are grow­ing up in high-hous­ing-cost fam­i­lies. In New Jer­sey and New York, Lati­no chil­dren (52%) are hard­est hit.

Hous­ing is almost always one of the largest expens­es for fam­i­lies. When rent or mort­gage pay­ments climb too high, the risk of fam­i­lies falling short of meet­ing oth­er basic needs also rises.

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