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Rent Burden Is Greater for Minority Households


Rent Burden Is Greater for Minority Households

Even in the most affordable cities where the rent burden is low, some groups of renters are paying relatively more for housing

October 12, 2021
Rent burden

Zillow research found that white and Asian households nationwide typically spent less than 30% of their monthly income on rent in August, but Black and Latinx renters spent 34% and 32.1%, respectively. Even in the most affordable cities where the rent burden is low, Black renters are paying relatively more. 

In St. Louis, for example, the typical rent burden for all renting households is 24.1%, well below the national figure. But while white households in St. Louis spent just 22.0% percent of their income on rent in August, respectively, Black renters should have expected to spend 27.5%.

For Latinx households, Oklahoma City was the most-affordable metro, requiring only 20.5 percent of their earnings to be spent on rent. Cincinnati was the most-affordable market for Black renting households, but still required more than a quarter (25.7%) of their income to afford rent. While Black households in Cincinnati are not technically rent burdened, they are still spending more relative to white and Asian households in many areas.  While the 25.7% black affordability figure in Cincinnati  was the lowest for black households across all metros surveyed, there were 34 instances in which white, Asian and/or Latinx affordability was better across all combinations of metro and race.

There are wide disparities between locations and when comparing current rents to 2019 baseline prepandemic norms. 

In Detroit, for example, rent affordability for the area’s Asian households improved the most between 2019 and 2021 among all race/metro combinations analyzed, from 24.0% in 2019 to just 15.7% in 2021. But in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, the Asian rent burden rose dramatically, from 24.8% to 39.8%, a more than 70 percent rise.

The rent burden for black renters in Columbus, Ohio improved markedly between 2019 and 2021 — from 30.7% to 28.6%, a modest improvement that still leaves local black households near the threshold of being considered housing cost burdened. In Sacramento, black rent affordability suffered notably over the same period, growing from 24.1% of income to 52.2% — leaving these households spending more than half of their monthly income on rent. 

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