Running Out of Money and Shelter

June 20, 1991

"A serious housing crisis confronts the Baltimore metropolitan area. For most poor area households, affordable housing is nearly impossible to find." These are conclusions of the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which says the typical poor renter in the Baltimore metropolitan area spends nearly 70 percent of income on rent and utilities.

These findings dovetail with results from the same center's nationwide survey that indicate housing is becoming scarcer and more expensive for the more than 13 million American households which are trying to survive on $10,000 a year. "The shortage of affordable housing is likely to have contributed to the marked growth in homelessness in recent years," says the study which is based on census information and data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the Baltimore area alone, there are an estimated 83,700 renter households with incomes under $10,000 a year. Yet there are only about 44,500 low-income units with rents below $250 a month. Although half of the poor renter households in the Baltimore area live in public housing, government subsidized units are not easily obtainable. In fact, more than 35,000 households were on waiting lists in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County as of April.

This crisis is unlikely to abate without substantial increases in federal funding. Comprehensive local strategies are also urgently needed because the crunch is not limited to households living under the poverty line. In fact, a key finding of the study says that Baltimore area families earning $10,0000-$30,000 spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing.

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