BOISE — Four out of every five economically modest households in Idaho are likely paying too much for a rental home according to a new report released today by the Idaho Asset Building Network and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The figure is based on the report’s updated estimate of the number of affordable and available homes in Idaho, with an affordable home costing no more than a third of a renter family’s income. There are 36,878 renter households earning up to 30 percent of area median income in Idaho, and only 14,591 rental homes that are affordable and available to this group of renters. This means the remaining 22,287 households are likely paying more than they can afford for a rental home in Idaho.  

“Few things impact the trajectory of our lives and the lives of our families more than our homes.  When homes are affordable, families can purchase nutritious food, afford quality daycare services, and are more likely to attend necessary medical appointments,” said Kendra Knighten, Policy Associate at the Idaho Asset Building Network. “However, rapidly increasing rental prices, stagnant wage growth, and the shortage of affordable homes is making it very difficult for Idaho’s renter families to cover the costs of other necessities in their lives. The inability for families to find affordable homes creates negative ripple effects that travel throughout these families, our communities, and our overall economy.”

Spending over one-third of household income on a home means little is left over for other basic necessities like groceries, gas, and school supplies for kids. Paying too much rent also puts families at increased risk of facing eviction and homelessness when rents go up or they experience emergency expenses. Additionally, the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that stable, affordable housing for all is an imperative for public health and individual well-being,

“As healthcare providers serving a large portion of the state, Saint Alphonsus has identified the need for safe, affordable housing as a priority as a social influencer of health,” said Rebecca Lemmons, Saint Alphonsus Health System’s regional director of community health and well-being.

Federal policies and funding play an important role in ensuring Idahoans have the ability to live in affordable homes. New rental construction over the past decade has been largely geared toward the high end of the rental market, and increasing investments in the National Housing Trust Fund and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit would promote the creation and maintenance of more affordable homes nationwide. Increased investments in the Housing Choice Voucher program, preserving the existing affordable housing stock, and enacting stronger legal protections for renters would also empower families to attain long-term housing stability. 

The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes also reveals that no state has an adequate supply of housing affordable and available to modest renter households. Nationally, there is a shortage of nearly seven million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income renter households. Only 37 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 modest renter households, and seventy percent of these households spend more than half of their income on rent, which can force them to make sacrifices in other critical areas of their lives.

The report, as well as Idaho data and select major metropolitan area data, can be found now at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website:  https://nlihc.org/gap

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