HUD’s Worst-Case Housing Needs Report to Congress measures the extent of unmet housing needs across the United States. The 19th biennial report found that in 2021, a record 8.53 million unassisted renter households had incomes below half the local median income and paid over half their income for rent and utilities or lived in inadequate conditions. This surpassed the previous record of 8.48 million households in 2011 and was 70% greater than the 5.01 million households with worst-case housing needs in 2001.
The prevalence of worst-case housing needs worsened across demographic groups and household types. In 2021, the prevalence of worst-case needs was 52.6% among Asian households, 47.4% among Hispanic households, 44.1% among non-Hispanic White households, 41.6% among Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander households, 39.3% among non-Hispanic Black households, and 36.4% among American Indian or Alaska Native households.
Contributing most to the increase in worst-case needs were household formation (individuals creating new single-person or multi-person households in a separate housing unit) and the increased competition for affordable units that reduced their availability to households with very low incomes. Inadequate housing quality caused only 2.8 percent of worst-case needs.