According to the latest report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, North Carolina continues to face a shortage of affordable rental housing for households at the lowest income levels – typically under $20,000 a year. For every 100 extremely-low income households in the state, there are only 43 affordable and available homes, resulting in a shortage of more than 188,000 homes. Moreover, 70% of extremely-low income households are severely cost-burdened, spending more than half their income on housing. North Carolina is not alone-no state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest income renters.
Extremely low-income households who must compete with all higher-income households for an increasingly limited number of homes are often forced to choose between shelter and food, healthcare, education and other basic needs. The vast majority of extremely low-income households work in low wage jobs and do not earn enough to afford housing. Some of the occupations in North Carolina that employ the most people – fast food workers and retail sales persons – pay the least, with median hourly wages that are insufficient to afford modest housing.
Without public investments, the private market is unable to produce affordable housing for these households. In a 2019 national poll, 85% of adults believed that a safe, affordable place to live should be a national priority, and 78% believed the government has an important role to play in expanding supply. Among the solutions identified in the report are significant investment in the national Housing Trust Fund, expansion of rental assistance programs and improvements to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which has helped produce more than 100,000 affordable apartments in North Carolina.