Home > Community Development > Publications > Special Reports > Affordability and Availability of Rental Housing in Pennsylvania > Chapter 3: Housing Conditions of Pennsylvania’s Lower-Income Renters in 2000
The state-level data clearly show that ELI renter households in Pennsylvania were much more likely to have severe cost burdens than renters in higher income groups and that shortages of affordable and available housing were by far most pressing for them. For every county within Pennsylvania, the same conclusions hold: ELI renter households are much more likely to have severe housing problems and severe shortages of affordable housing than other households.
Because housing unit problems were far less common than cost burdens at the county level, this section concentrates on lower-income renters with cost burdens. See Appendix D, Table 4 for housing unit problems by county.
ELI renter households were most likely to have severe cost burdens in three different areas of the state (Map 1). In the Northeast section of the state bordering New Jersey, Monroe County faced the greatest challenge, with 68 percent of ELI renter households having severe cost burdens. Many ELI renter households in neighboring Pike and Wayne counties also had severe cost burdens. The second area was Centre County, the home to Pennsylvania State University, and the third area was the Philadelphia suburban counties, particularly Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.
The seven counties in which ELI renters were most and least likely to have severe cost burdens appear in Table 12. In all but two counties (Forest and Juniata), at least 50 percent of ELI renter households had a cost burden. Furthermore, in every county, over 30 percent of ELI renter households had a severe cost burden.
Importantly, Table 12 also illustrates how unlikely LI renters were to face severe cost burdens. Even in Montgomery County, where 39 percent of LI renters paid more than 30 percent of income for gross rent, only 6 percent had severe cost burdens. VLI renters were also much less likely to have severe cost burdens than ELI renters.
Shortages of affordable housing were also most pressing for ELI renters. In every county, there were insufficient numbers of affordable and available rental units for ELI renter households.39 (See Appendix D, Table 4.)
Map 2 shows that the three areas in Pennsylvania in which ELI renter households most often faced severe cost burdens (the Northeast bordering New Jersey, Centre County, and the Philadelphia suburban counties) were also the areas with the greatest shortages of affordable and available housing units per 100 ELI renter households. The Lancaster area also had a notable shortage: only 38 affordable and available units per 100 ELI renter households.
Table 13 lists the seven counties in which ELI renters faced the largest and smallest housing unit shortages per 100 renter households. The results illustrate that in the counties with the largest shortages of housing both affordable and available to ELI renters, there were often also fewer units affordable and available at 50 percent of AMI than there were renters with income between 0-50 percent of AMI. However, in five of the seven counties with the largest shortages for ELI renters, the ratios for incomes below 80 percent AMI were 100 or more, indicating a surplus of units relative to renters.
By contrast, in the seven counties with the smallest shortages for ELI renters, there were surpluses of affordable and available units for renters with incomes below 50 percent of AMI, as well as more units than renters with incomes below 80 percent of AMI.
In absolute terms, the shortage of affordable and available housing units for ELI renter households summed to 170,324 units in the state of Pennsylvania in 2000. Of this total, the seven counties with the greatest shortages of affordable and available housing units for ELI renter households were Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, and Philadelphia. Sixty percent of the state’s overall shortage of rental housing units for ELI households was attributable to these seven counties. Indeed, 42 percent of the state’s shortage came from only two counties, Allegheny and Philadelphia, home to Pennsylvania’s two largest cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (Table 14).
Table 14 also shows that in most counties with the largest absolute shortages of affordable units available to ELI renter households, the shortage of units affordable and available to those in the wider 0-50 percent AMI income range (ELI and VLI renter households) was absolutely smaller. This difference implies that those counties had more units affordable to renters with incomes between 30 and 50 percent of AMI than renters in this income range. These data reinforce the conclusion that the most pressing need for additional affordable rental housing in most counties was for units affordable to ELI renter households.
By contrast, in only four counties, including Montgomery and Bucks in Table 14, did the shortage of units affordable and available to those between 0-50 percent AMI (ELI and VLI renter households) slightly exceed the shortage of units affordable and available to ELI renter households. Such data suggest that some additional units affordable to renters with income below the VLI threshold were also needed in these counties, although most of the additional units needed should be affordable to ELI renters.40
Finally, almost all counties had net surpluses of affordable and available units compared to renters with incomes below 80 percent of AMI.