Home > Community Development > Publications > Special Reports > Affordability and Availability of Rental Housing in Pennsylvania > Chapter 4: A Mid-Decade Update: Housing Conditions in 2005-06
The data for “consolidated” PUMAs discussed and mapped in this section provide the closest look at rental housing conditions and shortages at the local level that is possible from ACS micro-data. As Appendix E details, we aggregated the PUMAs identified in the 2005 and 2006 ACS to match the county-level CHAS data provided in Chapter 3 and Appendix D as closely as possible. In many instances in this section, we are able to analyze the ACS data by county and compare it to 2000 county-level data.57
Appendix G provides the 2005-06 data for consolidated PUMAs and includes changes since 2000.
Overall, the three areas identified in 2000 as having the greatest incidence of severe cost (the Northeast section of the state bordering New Jersey, Centre County, and the Philadelphia area) continue to face this challenge at mid-decade. As Map 6 illustrates, severe cost burdens were most common among ELI renter households in the following three counties: Centre (91 percent), Monroe (85 percent), and Delaware (82 percent). Severe cost burdens were least common among ELI renters in the Cambria/Somerset area (44 percent) followed by Lebanon County (46 percent).
Table 22 provides more detail for the areas in which ELI renters were most and least likely to have severe cost burdens. In Bucks, Centre, Delaware, and Monroe counties, over 90 percent of ELI renter households had cost burdens. Furthermore, in each of these counties, over three-quarters of all ELI renter households had a severe cost burden. The extreme is Centre County, in which 91 percent of ELI renters actually had severe cost burdens.
Even in the areas with the lowest incidence of cost burdens, at least two-thirds of ELI renter households had a cost burden.58 Furthermore, in all areas except Cambria/Somerset and Lebanon, at least 50 percent of ELI renter households had a severe cost burden. This means that in each area, at least 60 percent of the ELI renter households that had any cost burden actually had a severe cost burden.
Table 22 also illustrates that throughout the state, LI and VLI renters remain much less likely to face severe cost burdens in 2005-06 than ELI renters, as occurred in 2000. Monroe County had the highest percentage of LI renters with a severe cost burden statewide, but even there, only 11 percent of LI households had a severe cost burden. VLI renters were most often cost burdened in Montgomery County, but there, only 35 percent had severe cost burdens.
Affordable Rental Housing Shortages. Shortages of affordable housing continued to be most pressing for ELI renters in 2005-06 and have also grown since 2000. Map 7 indicates the areas of Pennsylvania with the most severe affordable housing shortages mid-decade. The five counties identified in the previous section as having the greatest cost burden incidence for ELI renter households (Centre, Monroe, Delaware, Bucks, and Montgomery) also had the greatest shortages in affordable and available rental housing stock mid-decade. Likewise, the Cambria/Somerset area had the lowest severe cost burden incidence for ELI renter households and also had less of a shortage of affordable and available housing units for this income group than most areas of the state.59 There is a strong negative correlation between the ratios of affordable and available units and the incidence of severe cost burden.60 In other words, where there are fewer units per 100 ELI renter households, and thus more severe shortages, more ELI renters have severe cost burdens.
Consistent with 2000 results, Centre County had the greatest shortage of affordable and available housing units per 100 ELI renter households and for households with income between 0-50 percent of AMI, with only 15 units and 43 units, respectively. Other counties that had severe shortages of affordable and available housing for ELI renter households in both 2000 and 2005-06 include Monroe and Lancaster counties, as well as the Philadelphia suburban counties of Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery (Table 23).
Erie County, which fared better than the state average in 2000, faced a severe shortage of 29 units per 100 ELI renter households at mid-decade.61 Erie also experienced the most significant decrease in the number of affordable and available units per 100 ELI renter households between 2000 and 2005-06 ( 25 units), which suggests that rental housing affordability was deteriorating in the first half of the previous decade.62
Several counties surrounding Allegheny County (the Pittsburgh region) in the Southwest corner of Pennsylvania (particularly the areas of Greene/Washington, Fayette, and Beaver/Lawrence) had the greatest number of affordable and available units for ELI renter households. Even though these counties had the highest supply ratios within the state, they still faced shortages of nearly 20 units per 100 ELI renter households. Allegheny County, however, had markedly less affordable and available housing for ELI renters than most of its surrounding counties and was below the state average.63
In addition, vacancy rates for a number of these counties in the Southwest region, particularly Washington/Green, were quite high for units affordable to ELI renters (Appendix G, Table 2).64 The DCED section detailed that a high vacancy rate could signal an adequate supply of rental housing, but it also could signal too many units of poor quality or units in locations with declining demand. Additional analysis is needed at the local level to determine the cause of high vacancies in this area.
Following the counties in the southwestern corner of the state, another area near the southwestern region, Cambria/Somerset, had a high number of affordable and available units per 100 ELI renter households (77 units). There were less than two affordable and available units for every three ELI renter households in all other areas of the state.
In absolute terms, the statewide shortage of housing units affordable and available to ELI renter households grew to over 220,000 by mid-decade. The seven areas with the greatest absolute shortages of rental units affordable and available to ELI renter households were Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware, Carbon/Lehigh, Erie, Montgomery, and Philadelphia. Nearly 60 percent of the state’s overall shortage of rental housing units for ELI households was attributable to these seven counties. As found in 2000, 39 percent of the state’s shortage came from Allegheny and Philadelphia counties (Table 24).
Again as in 2000, Table 24 illustrates that in most counties with the largest absolute shortages of units affordable and available to ELI renter households, the shortage of units affordable and available to renters in the wider 0-50 percent income range was absolutely smaller. These data confirm that, at mid-decade, ELI renters had not only the most pressing needs for additional affordable and available units but also that needs had grown significantly since 2000. By contrast, the surplus of units affordable and available to renters with incomes at or below 80 percent of AMI widened statewide after 2000, largely because of a significant rise in Philadelphia County.