Southeastern Rental Affordability Tracker

Housing helps form the foundation of our communities. The availability of stable and affordable housing in quality neighborhoods can provide households the opportunity for economic mobility and can be a competitive advantage for towns seeking to attract and retain employers. For many people who rent, however, it is often a choice between quality and affordability. This is especially true for low- and moderate-income renters, whose incomes limit the rents they are able to afford and therefore the choices they have.

The data tool displays the state of rental affordability in the Southeast using 2015 American Community Survey data. The tool allows users to visualize data and create profiles at the state, region, and city level. (See Data Sources for information on region.) This tool and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Shimberg Center for Housing Studies' recent analysis of rental housing affordability in the Southeast demonstrate the abundance of renter households that are cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened—paying more than 30 percent or 50 percent, respectively, of their income on housing—and shows the pressing need for additional affordable rental units throughout the Southeast. The lack of affordable rental housing is generally due to rents increasing at a greater pace than income, a higher demand for rentals, and the loss of low-cost rental housing units.

Use the tool to explore the availability of affordable rentals and cost-burdened households in your area to understand the issue better. To tackle the enormous challenge of increasing the supply of affordable housing and to achieve a better balance of housing options at all rent levels, it is imperative first to define the problem and then develop a cohesive vision for addressing it at the local level.

Explore the Data

How the Dashboards Work

Renter Affordability Profile

This dashboard provides available rental housing affordability measures in tables and charts after selecting the level of geography: state, metropolitan or micropolitan region, or city.

Map of Cost-Burdened Rental Households

This map visualizes the estimated percent of renter households in the Southeast that are cost burdened by region and income. Filters allow for comparison across the six states fully or partially in the Atlanta Fed's District. Users can also zoom in to a single state. This dashboard also allows users to select the income category, level of cost burden, and geography displayed.

For example, you can use the map to look at the percent of very low-income cost-burdened households in Mississippi. You will find that 51 percent of very low-income households are cost burdened.

Map of Affordable and Available Rental Housing Units

This map visualizes the estimated number of rental units that are affordable and available per 100 renter households by region and income. Filters allow for comparison across the six states fully or partially in the Atlanta Fed's District, or zoom in to a singular state. The filters also allow users to select the income category and geography displayed.

For example, you can look at the number of affordable and available units for renters at or below 50 percent AMI in Mississippi to find that for every 100 renter households, there are only 59 rental units that are both affordable and available.

Data Definitions and Sources

Data Definitions

Income categories:

  • Extremely low income: A renter household for which household income was equal to or less than 30 percent of the regional AMI.
  • Very low income: A renter household for which household income was more than 30 percent and equal to or less than 50 percent of the regional AMI.
  • Low income: A renter household for which household income was more than 50 percent and equal to or less than 80 percent of the regional AMI.
  • Moderate income: A renter household for which household income was more than 80 percent and equal to or less than 120 percent of the regional AMI.
  • Upper Income: A renter household for which household incomes was more than 120 percent of the regional AMI.

Area median income (AMI): The calculated family median income within the region, provided in the area renter affordability profile as well as the mapping tool. See the methodology section of "Rental Housing Affordability in the Southeast" for a detailed description of how the AMIs were calculated.

Cost burden:

  • Cost burdened: A renter household for which gross rent was between 30 and 50 percent of the monthly household income.
  • Severely cost burdened: A renter household for which gross rent was more than 50 percent of the monthly household income.
  • Total cost burdened: A renter household for which gross rent was more than 30 percent of the monthly household income (the sum of cost burdened and severely cost burdened).

Affordable and available rental units: A unit is considered affordable if gross rent did not exceed 30 percent of the monthly household income at the given income threshold, adjusted for number of rooms. A unit is available if it is either vacant or currently occupied by a household at or below the given income threshold. The surplus/deficit is calculated as the total number of rental units that were affordable and available at a given income level minus the total number of renter households at or below that corresponding income level. The affordable and available units per 100 renter households is calculated as the number of rental units that were affordable and available to households at or below a given income threshold per 100 households at or below that income level.

Data Sources

We constructed the regional snapshot of rental housing affordability and the availability of rental housing units at several scales for the Atlanta Fed's District by using the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year public use microdata sample (PUMS). Public use microdata areas (PUMAs) were used to re-create the metropolitan statistical areas, micropolitan areas, and nonmetropolitan areas defined as regions in this analysis. For details, see the Data and Methodology sections of the Atlanta Fed's Community and Economic Development paper "Rental Housing Affordability in the Southeast." Estimates and margins of error are available in data Excel sheets under Related Materials and Research.

Contact Us

Ann Carpenter
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

portrait of Douglas White, Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, University of Florida

Douglas White
Shimberg Center for Housing Studies University of Florida
Center for Business and Economic Research, Louisiana State University, Shreveport

Mary Hirt

Mary Hirt
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

 

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logo for the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies