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National report highlights struggle of most vulnerable Iowa renters

A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) finds a national shortage of 7.3 million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income renter households – those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30% of their area median income, whichever is greater – resulting in just 34 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households nationwide. The report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, also reveals that there are 101,442 extremely low-income households in Iowa but only 43,065 affordable rental homes available to them, leaving only 42 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income households in the state.

Iowa has a shortage of 58,377 rental homes that are affordable and available to the state's extremely low income residents, according to NLIHC's latest analysis.

Released annually, The Gap investigates the severe shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income families and individuals nationwide and in every state and metro area. While rents have stabilized since the pandemic in most markets – and even declined to a small degree in some markets – the supply of affordable rental housing for extremely low-income households remains deeply inadequate nationwide and in Iowa. In consequence, 67% of extremely low-income renters in Iowa are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than 50% of their income on housing, with little left over for food, healthcare, and other basic necessities.

Among extremely low income Iowa renters, two-thirds are severely cost burdened, meaning over half their income goes to pay rent.

The report also reveals that most rental markets provide an adequate supply of housing for middle-income renters but that no rental market provides enough homes for extremely low-income renters. Even in housing markets with shortages of affordable and available homes for middle-income renters, the cumulative shortage is largely attributable to the significant unmet housing needs of people with the lowest incomes, who must occupy higher-priced homes in the private market that would otherwise be available to higher-income renters.

To read the report, visit the NLIHC website:

In 2023, the Trust Fund used NLIHC's methods and a slightly different dataset to create a version of this report specifically applicable to Polk County, Iowa. View it here:

Polk County Housing Affordability
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