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Federal Rental Assistance Helps Families, Seniors, People With Disabilities in Every State

May 9, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Update, May 16: We’ve updated this post.

Federal rental assistance helps low-income families afford stable housing and prevents homelessness in every state, as our new interactive state fact sheets show. It helps 10 million people in over 5 million households keep a roof over their heads, often by helping them afford units in the private market. Nearly 70 percent of people receiving federal rental assistance are children, seniors, or people with disabilities.

Our fact sheets provide demographic information on people and households receiving rental assistance from the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or Agriculture. Nationally, federal rental assistance helps nearly 2 million seniors age in place and 2.4 million people with disabilities live independently. Over 6 million people receiving federal rental assistance are in families with children, and housing assistance enables many adults in these families to work. Sixty percent of working-age, non-disabled households receiving HUD rental assistance work, and the figure is even higher in many states. As our fact sheets also show, rental assistance supports all types of communities in each state, including 1.5 million people in rural areas and small towns.

Yet funding shortages keep 3 out of 4 eligible low-income renters from getting help. Over 23 million people live in households paying more than half their income for housing — well over the 30 percent at which the federal government considers housing unaffordable. When families pay too much for housing, they often forgo other necessities, like food or medicine, and are at greater risk of getting evicted and becoming homeless. People in every state, particularly children, experience homelessness, our fact sheets show.

In most states, rents have risen faster than incomes, meaning that policymakers must provide more funding just to prevent cuts in assistance. Despite the importance of rental assistance, more federal dollars go to homeownership subsidies, like the mortgage interest deduction, that mainly benefit higher-income households, than to families that struggle the most to afford housing. Providing the funds necessary to protect and expand federal rental assistance should be a top priority of federal housing policy.

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