Facts About Affordable Housing

Current Conditions

  • City of Renters: While homeownership rates are on the rise, 56.2% of Chicago households are still renters. Most of Chicago’s renters are located close to the city center with a strong presence along the lakefront.
  • Median Income: The median family income for a family or four in the Chicagoland area is $70,500. In the region, there are over 740,000 households with incomes at or below $35,000.
  • Fair Market Rent: HUD defines Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago at $711 a month. As a general rule, housing costs should comprise no more than 30% of a household’s income.
  • Housing-Wage Gap: For a single wage earner trying to afford Fair Market Rent, the math problem above has no easy solution. To keep their rents at 30% of their income they must either find a job paying $13.67/hour or work 106 hours at minimum wage.

Housing Supply & Demand

  • Loss of Rental Housing: As Chicago’s population grew by 112,290 people, a 4% increase, from 1990-2000, the city suffered a net loss of 2,852 rental units according to new census figures.
  • Changes at CHA: The Chicago Housing Authority plans to remove approximately 13,000 units from its inventory of 38,000 units, so that by 2009 there would be only 25,000 units of public housing in Chicago.
  • At-Risk Section 8: Chicago has over 16,000 project-based Section 8 units at risk of loss in the next five years. Over 500 units have already been lost when private owners choose not to renew their contracts.
  • Livability of Entry-Level Jobs: Between 264,000 and 395,000 workers in the region’s entry level jobs cannot afford housing that costs more than 4750 per month.
  • TANF Recipients At-Risk: 4 out of 5 TANF recipients do not live in subsidized housing. These households are at risk of losing housing if there is a disruption in support or income.
  • Supply-Demand Mismatch: We are short at least 153,000 units of rental housing affordable to households with income up to $20,000.

Outcomes & Consequences

  • Limited Choice: Most low-cost affordable rental housing is located in the south and west sides of the city where there are higher vacancy rates and larger numbers of low-income households (nearly 1/3 of households on the west and south side have incomes below 30% of AMI). Conversely, the north and northwest sides have higher rents, lower vacancy rates and fewer lower income households.
  • Rent Burden: Regardless of income, about 184,000 households are paying more than 30% of income for rent in Chicago, of which about 117,000 are paying more than 50%.
  • Overcrowding: Households straining to pay for housing sometimes double up to meet housing costs. Almost 108,000 households in Chicago are overcrowded, with more than one person per room, and their numbers have been rising.

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