Rental Assistance Asset Accounts

Source: Reid Cramer and Jeffrey Lubell, New America Policy Papers, January 2009

The rental housing market in the United States is characterized by a fundamental disconnect between rents and household incomes. It has been this way for decades. Millions of Americans simply earn too little to afford to rent a decent home. To meet these families’ basic needs for shelter, the federal government spends more than $25 billion each year to provide rental assistance to more than four million poor and near-poor households. This assistance is delivered through a mix of housing vouchers and deep subsidies to public housing agencies and private owners to maintain a stock of affordable housing developments built in prior decades. Despite this large and important federal investment, the unmet need remains vast. As of 2007, some eight to nine million renter households spent more than half their incomes for rent and utilities. 

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