Las Vegas Sun

June 26, 2017

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Las Vegas’ shortage of affordable housing is worst in the country, study finds

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Steve Marcus

Carpenters work on an affordable housing complex being built by Nevada HAND on Boulder Highway, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Nevada HAND is a real estate development company that focuses on affordable housing projects.

Poor families seeking affordable housing are better off in any other metro area than Las Vegas.

According to a study released this week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Las Vegas has the biggest shortage of affordable and available rental homes. Only 12 affordable rental units are available for every 100 households classified as “extremely low income.”

Nevada overall fares only slightly better, with 15 units available for every 100 households.

The national average is 35.

A household is considered extremely low income if its annual income is at or below 30 percent of the area median income. The area median income in Clark County is $59,000. That means a family of four would be considered extremely low income at $24,300 or less.

Nationally, 11.4 million households are classified as extremely low income. This group accounts for more than 10 percent of all households and 26 percent of all renter households. According to the study, 71 percent of these extremely low income renter households spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities, leaving them cost burdened and forced to sacrifice other needs like food and health care.

The study found that 83 percent of extremely low income households in Nevada and 86 percent of extremely low income households in Las Vegas are severely cost burdened. The next highest percentage was Florida, where 79 percent of extremely low income households are considered severely cost burdened.

Las Vegas topped the list of large metropolitan areas with the lowest availability of available rental homes for extremely low income households. Los Angeles ranked second, with 16 affordable units available per 100 households in need. Houston, Orlando and San Diego rounded out the top five.

At the other extreme, Boston has the greatest availability of these rental units. However, even that city has a shortage, with only 46 units available for every 100 households. Following Boston with the most availability was Pittsburgh; Providence, R.I.; Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland.

The study estimates the shortage of affordable rental homes is 3.9 million nationally. One known issue is that rental units that are affordable to extremely low income households are sometimes rented by those classified as “very low income,” “low income” or even “median income.”

Homeless households were not included in these findings. When those are added in, the national affordable housing shortage sits at 7.8 million units nationally.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition study concluded by calling for tax reforms and a restructuring of priorities to help those households with the greatest housing needs.

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