Among households with the lowest incomes, there are twice as many households as there are affordable rental units in Colorado. According to a report released today by the Colorado Division of Housing, there are 50 rental units affordable to every 100 renter households that earn less than $20,000. The report assumes that households earning $20,000 can afford a monthly rent payment of $500, or 30 percent of monthly income.
The report, which is based on Census Bureau data collected from 2006 to 2010, stated that there are 45 affordable rental units for every 100 households earning less than $15,000 per year, and 55 units for every 100 households at an income level below $10,000. For households at the $35,000 income level, there are 107 rental units affordable to every 100 households.
In the report, units are deemed affordable if the household pays no more than 30 percent of monthly income to rent. Households that pay more than 30 percent of income for housing are described as “rent burdened.”
“Rental housing in general since 2009 has become more scarce for many households as vacancies fall and rents rise,” said Ryan McMaken a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Housing. “But when one is at the lowest income levels, the impact of growing demand for rentals can be especially severe as once-affordable units are priced out of range.”
At all income levels, there were approximately 298,200 rent burdened households in Colorado, which is equal to 48 percent of all renter households. 50 percent of all rent burdened households are at income levels below $20,000 per year.
The report also noted that in Colorado there are “243,000 households (39 percent of all renter households) paying 35 percent or more of income toward housing. Approximately 150,000 households (24 percent of all renter households) pay 50 percent or more of income toward housing.”
The availability of affordable rental units varied across the state. In the metro Denver area, there were 43 units affordable to every 100 households earning less than $10,000, and 39 units affordable for each 100 households earning less than $20,000. Affordable rentals were more accessible in the Grand Junction area where there were 77 units affordable to every 100 households earning less than $10,000, and 61 units affordable to every 100 households earning less than $20,000.
For households earning $35,000 in all areas except the Boulder area, there were at least 100 units affordable to every 100 households. In the Boulder area there were 78 units for households earning $35,000.
The areas with the largest percentages of rent burdened households were the Boulder area and the Fort Collins-Loveland area where 56 percent and 54 percent of households were rent burdened, respectively. The areas with the smallest percentages of rent burdened households were the Colorado Springs and Grand Junction areas where the proportion of households that were rent burdened was 47 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
Monday’s report is an update of 2011’s housing need report released by the Division of Housing last summer.
“Comparing this year’s report to last year’s we can see that the need increased somewhat during that time” McMaken said. “That’s not surprising because in recent years we’ve seen the homeownership rate drop and rents increase. That squeezes the renters at the lowest income levels.”