WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to the new 2019 American Housing Survey (AHS) recently released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of American renter households spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs held steady at 51 percent between 2017 and 2019.
The 2019 AHS offers the most comprehensive picture of the nation’s housing inventory pre-pandemic. As researchers try to understand more current data on the state of housing from multiple data sources, the new survey informs an understanding of how the current housing challenges relate to the housing challenges pre-pandemic.
The survey also included questions on food security, marking the second time in four years this type of data was collected and making it possible to track changes in food security. For instance, about 85 percent of households indicated they had high food security in 2019 compared to 82 percent in 2015.
“The new American Housing Survey data show clear improvements in food security between 2015 and 2019. Our hope is that the new 2019 American Housing Survey food security estimates can serve as a baseline for which to assess how American households are currently coping with the economic impacts of COVID-related job losses, which interrupted a historic period of economic growth and opportunity,” said Seth Appleton, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.
The survey also provides detailed information on the accessibility of housing for persons with disabilities. Of the 126 million households in America, nearly 16 million include at least one person who uses a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility devices.
For the nearly 16 million households with at least one member using a mobility device, nearly 56 percent report their current home layout meets their accessibility needs “very well,” while more than 4 percent reported their home did not meet their accessibility needs.
More than 4.2 million households reported at least one member had difficulty entering the home or apartment building and 3.2 million households reported at least one member had difficulty using the kitchen.
The 2019 American Housing Survey data show that nearly 3.5 million homeowners plan to make home improvements to improve the accessibility of their homes.
“As the population grows older, it is important to address their needs, including home modifications to improve accessibility. This new American Housing Survey data reveal that millions of households may benefit from accessibility improvements,” says Appleton, who also notes that home modifications are an activity frequently undertaken by local governments using HUD grant funds.
The American Housing Survey is funded by HUD and data is collected every other year by the Census Bureau. The American Housing Survey is the most comprehensive housing survey in the United States, covering topics such as housing quality, housing costs, home improvements and neighborhood characteristics.
The survey release includes summary tables for the nation, for the 15 largest metropolitan areas, 9 states, and 10 additional large metropolitan areas. The microdata records will be released at the end of September.
Below are highlights from the 2019 national-level findings among the 124.1 million occupied housing units.
- Nearly 16 million households, or 12.9 percent of all households, had at least one person reported using a mobility device.
- For households with at least one person using a mobility device, 55.9 percent reported that their current home layout met their accessibility needs “very well.” Conversely, 4.4 percent reported that their home did not at all meet their accessibility needs.
- Of the more than 60 million households with at least two floors, 45.8 percent had a bedroom on the entry-level and 57.3 percent had a full bathroom on the entry-level.
- Approximately 3.5 million owner-occupied households reported that they planned to make home improvements that would make their home more accessible to people with physical limitations.
- During the summer and fall of 2019, 85 percent of households reported having a high level of food security, an increase of 3 percent since 2015.
- During the summer and fall of 2019, about 13.1 percent of households reported their food security as “marginal” or worse.
- During the summer and fall of 2019, about 10.4 percent of households reported that it was sometimes or often true that they were worried food would run out before getting money to buy more.
- More than half (51.4 percent) of renter households spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs, a slight decrease from 2017 (51.8 percent).
- The median rent was $909 per month while the median mortgage cost was $975.
- The median total cost of utilities was $210. The median cost for electricity was $109 per month and the median cost of water was $50 per month.
Household and Home Size
- The median square feet per person was 700 in 2019. For black alone householders, the median square feet per person was 622 in 2019, an increase from 601 in 2017. For homes with Hispanic householders the median square feet per person was 452 in 2019, an increase from 450 in 2017.
- More than 28 million households (23.8 percent of all households) live in homes with more people than bedrooms.
- Nearly 14 million households, or 11.3 percent of all households, reported seeing signs of cockroaches in their home in the last 12 months. A much larger share of renters (15.9 percent) than owners (8.7 percent) reported seeing cockroaches.
- About 3.6 million households, or 3.0 percent of all households, reported signs of mold in their home in the last 12 months. Renters (4.4 percent) are more than twice as likely as owners (2.1 percent) to report signs of mold.
- Of the 29.8 million households with a person 55 or over, 3.9 million live in age-restricted communities.
- 80.6 percent of households believe their neighborhood has good schools.
- 89.2 percent of households report no trash, litter, or junk on their street or nearby properties.
- Homeowners performed over 114 million home improvement projects between summer 2017 and summer 2019, costing a total of about $521.8 billion. Of these projects, about 42.7 million were completed as Do-It-Yourself projects.
- Over half of homeowners are estimated to have made an improvement to their home between summer 2017 and summer 2019.
- Between 2017 and 2019, an estimated 273,000 homeowners spent about $3.7 billion on bathroom additions or renovating existing rooms to become bathrooms. The median cost per addition or renovation was $10,000. Bathroom remodels were about 20 times more common and about a third the cost, with an estimated 5.6 million homeowners spending $37.3 billion, and a median cost per remodel of $3,300.
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