April 16, 2019

Housing Cost Burden Numbers Continue to Improve; Disparities Persist

When housing costs are too high — accounting for more than 30% of a family’s monthly income — parents and kids alike face challenges.

Fortunately, the percentage of kids whose families are grappling with high housing costs continues to fall. But racial and ethnic disparities persist — and some states are facing steeper challenges than others.

Nationwide, the share of children in families with high housing cost burdens peaked as the recession came to an end, hitting 41% (30,107,000 kids) in 2010. Since that time, this rate has fallen annually — dipping to 31% (22,908,000 kids) in 2017.

Also encouraging: From 2016 to 2017, the percentage of children in high-housing-cost families either stayed the same or fell slightly across all racial and ethnic groups. Yet, African-American (45%) and Latino (42%) children are still more likely to grow up in families burdened by housing costs when compared to the nation’s total child population (31%).

At the state level, four locations — California (43%), New York (40%), Florida (38%) and New Jersey (37%) — have the highest proportion of children affected by high housing costs. These four states are home to more than one-third of the nation’s children — over 7.8 million kids total — who are living in families burdened by housing costs.

Looking at these states more closely, the data indicate that a large proportion of African American children in California (53%) and Florida (50%) are growing up in high-housing-cost families. In New Jersey and New York, Latino children (52%) are hardest hit.

Housing is almost always one of the largest expenses for families. When rent or mortgage payments climb too high, the risk of families falling short of meeting other basic needs also rises.