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Owner-occupied housing has become more affordable in most markets since the housing crisis. In contrast, many renters and their advocates have reported that rental housing has become increasingly unaffordable. National trends seem to support these reports: from 2010 to 2015, growth in median rent outpaced inflation by 0.6 percent per year. Over the same period, rent growth outpaced income growth by 1 percentage point per year. However, national data on rent affordability may mask important details about local markets. Affordability—and changes in affordability—vary widely across metropolitan statistical areas. Kelly Edmiston examines patterns in rent affordability for both low- and middle-income households and across metropolitan areas. He finds that only a few areas have seen significant changes in affordability over the past five years. These areas typically have small populations and an institution or industry that in some sense dominates the area.

Publication information: Fourth Quarter 2016, Volume 101, Number 4