An estimated 62 percent of U.S. renter households (about 27 million families) earn less than 80 percent of the area median income. Roughly 73 percent of these households (over 19 million families) spend over 30 percent of their income on rental housing.

The towering housing cost burden is a significant barrier for these families in transitioning out of poverty.

To address the shortage of affordable rental housing, the National Housing Trust Fund, the first new source of federal funding in over 40 years, was established by Congress as part of the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The fund provides communities with resources to build, preserve, and rehabilitate housing affordable for low-income households. HUD announced the availability of the first round of funding on May 4, 2016.

It is imperative that the state and local jurisdictions identify the shortage of affordable rental housing units available to low-income households, the elderly and the disabled at the lowest geographical boundary. The latest Comprehensive Housing Strategy Affordability (CHAS) database provides a plethora of housing related statistics at the census tract level for all communities throughout the U.S. The shortage of affordable housing for a community can be measured by applying the appropriate methodology to available data.

Over the past 30 years, SIA team members have offered market feasibility analyses, economic impact measurement, and housing market research at local, regional, national and international levels, developing and deploying developed and deployed customized, interactive cost-benefit models for a range of development projects, including construction and operations of affordable rental housing units. As part of this work, SIA has measured the shortage of affordable and available rental housing units for low to mid-income households, as well as the elderly and the disabled families nationwide, at the census tract level.

The sample map shown below highlights the shortage of affordable housing for families earning up to 30 percent of the area median income in Maryland Census tracts. Mapping the shortage data allows communities to identify and rank jurisdictions by the severity of the shortage problem, thus enabling better planning and a more cohesive coordination of efforts to confront the housing problems faced by lower income families.


Do you need to evaluate the shortage of affordable rental housing units available to these underserved populations in your county or state? For more information on SIA services, visit, or write me at to discuss how we can support your efforts.