In its annual report on the national and state-level shortage of affordable housing, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition found in this year’s The Gap report that the affordability gap continues, with again no state having an adequate supply of affordable homes for extremely low-income renters. While the report uses data from 2019 and is therefore unable to account for effects of the pandemic, NLIHC speculates that COVID-19 has exacerbated affordability issues for extremely low-income renters by increasing the gap between income and housing costs. By December 2020, 70% of all renters with incomes less than $25,000 who were not retired lived in a household that had lost income earned from wages due to the pandemic. Texas, Florida, and California had the largest gaps between wages and rent.
A new GAO report, requested by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), examines how agencies verify income and assets using electronic data for public assistance programs. The GAO included the Housing Choice Voucher Program in its analysis and found that HUD required PHAs to use more specific data sources to verify income, compared to other agencies that grant greater flexibility in data sources. The agencies overseeing Medicaid and SNAP have also made greater efforts in recent years to share data with other agencies that can provide grantees with additional data sources available to them to complete income verification. One of the GAO’s two recommendations is for HUD to assess other ways for PHAs to verify income information, particularly through data sharing arrangements.
This year’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) from HUD finds that for the fourth consecutive year, homelessness has increased nationally, up two percent from 2019. On a single night in 2020, 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness, with 39% of those living in unsheltered locations such as the street, abandoned buildings, and vehicles. For the first year since AHAR data collection began in 2007, a greater number of individuals experiencing homelessness were unsheltered rather than sheltered. The report includes national estimates of homelessness for various demographics groups as well as state- and CoC-level estimates.