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Wednesday February 21, 2024

Why so many Americans are becoming homeless?

House rent has been steadlily increasing in US since 2001

By Web Desk
January 27, 2024
People living in tents in the United States. — AFP/File
People living in tents in the United States. — AFP/File

An increasing number of Americans are becoming homeless due to the financial strain caused by rising rents in recent years as per a new research.

A research released on January 25 by Harvard's Joint Centre for Housing Studies estimates that 653,000 individuals reported being homeless in January 2023, an increase of around 12% from the same month the previous year and 48% from 2015. 

According to Harvard academics, that is the biggest one-year growth in the nation's homeless population ever.

Long a concern in states like California and Washington, homelessness has also surged in previously more affordable areas of the United States. The states with the biggest increases in the number of homeless people are Arizona, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas as a result of growing local housing expenses.

Alarming increases in the number of people who struggle to pay for housing occurred in 2021 and 2022, at a time when rising rental costs nationwide exceeded increases in worker wages. 

The researchers discovered that while a number of causes might lead to homelessness, the increase in housing insecurity last year was largely caused by high rents and the expiration of pandemic assistance.

"In the first years of the pandemic, renter protections, income supports and housing assistance helped stave off a considerable rise in homelessness. However, many of these protections ended in 2022, at a time when rents were rising rapidly and increasing numbers of migrants were prohibited from working. As a result, the number of people experiencing homelessness jumped by nearly 71,000 in just one year," according to the report.

Since 2001, rent has increased steadily in the United States. The Harvard researchers determined that half of all American households, regardless of income level, spent between 30% and 50% of their monthly income on housing in 2022 after examining Census and real estate statistics. 

This finding classified these households as "cost-burdened." A little over 12 million renters were significantly cost-burdened that year, indicating that their monthly rent and utility bills accounted for over half of their income, an increase of 14% from pre-pandemic levels.