American Housing Survey Data Show Changes in Multifamily Supply Are Unfavorable to Lower-Income Renters

Nuno MotaThe most recent American Housing Survey (AHS) data, for 2013, allow us to estimate the number of multifamily housing units (those in a building with five or more units) that were added and lost since the previous survey in 2011. Replicating the methodology used in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Components of Inventory Change (CINCH) Reports, we estimate that both annual additions and losses from the multifamily housing stock have been trending downward during the 2005-2013 period and were approximately 183,000 and 123,000, respectively, for the latest survey pair (2011-2013).

We show that lower-income renters lost ground in both additions to and losses from the multifamily rental housing stock. An estimated 44,000 units, or 52%, of the approximately 84,000 rental units that were lost annually between 2011 and 2013 were affordable to Very Low Income renters, with a median monthly rent of $600 in 2011 compared with a median rent just under $800 for units remaining in the stock. HUD defines a unit as affordable to Very Low Income renters if the estimated housing cost is not greater than 30% of the income of renters earning 50% of the median income for their locality (Area Median Income, AMI).

By contrast, only 38,000 or roughly one-quarter of the estimated 145,000 annual renter units added were affordable to Very Low Income renters, with a median rent for additions of $1,000 in 2013. These trends show the challenge facing lower-income households that are looking for affordable multifamily rental housing.1 With little new stock affordable to them, many lower-income households are renting apartments that are beyond their financial means, leaving them less money for food, healthcare, transportation to work, and other necessities.

To learn more about the findings, read our latest edition of Housing Insights.

1 Estimates based on AHS survey respondents where information on housing costs is provided to determine affordability and includes renter-occupied as well as seasonal or vacant units.

Nuno Mota
Economic & Strategic Research

Tatyana Zahalak
Multifamily Economics and Market Research

February 11, 2016 

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