Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Reports That Lower-Income Renters Have Less Residual Income Than Ever Before

Date Published: 
April 20th, 2023

A new article from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) finds that lower-income renters have less residual income, or the amount of income left over after paying rent and utilities each month, than ever before. According to JCHS’s analysis, the median monthly household income decreased 2 percent from 2019–2021 while the median rent rose 3 percent in real terms. As a result, the median residual income fell by 5 percent – in real terms, leaving renter households with about $130 less each month. This drop in residual income was greatly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other worrying findings discussed in the article include: 

  • Income and rent trends during the pandemic reversed modest affordability gains in recent years 
  • Lower-income renters have less income left over after paying rent than ever before 
  • Inequality is increasing among renters as affordability for lower-income households worsens

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