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Who lives in subsidized housing?

As I wrote in this space last week, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has released detailed data about households receiving Federal housing assistance. According to the new data, in 2013 there were over 5.2 million HUD-subsidized housing units in the United States serving over 10 million people. Who is receiving Federal housing assistance?

  • The majority of households receiving assistance are either families with children, seniors or households with a disabled person.
    • 39 percent are families with children
    • 33 percent are seniors age 62 and older
    • 34 percent are non-senior disabled
(Note: there is overlap between families with children and non-senior disabled populations.)
  • Three-quarters of households receiving assistance are extremely low income, with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income (AMI). (As an example, for a family of three, 30 percent of AMI is $29,050 in the District of Columbia and $15,300 in Morgantown, West Virginia. Find the HUD income limits for your area.)
  • 64 percent of households receiving assistance are non-white.
    • 44 percent are African-American
    • 17 percent are Hispanic
    • 4 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander
  • The characteristics of subsidized households haven’t changed much since 2009. In 2013, there was a slightly smaller share of families with children and extremely low-income households served, while the shares of subsidized households that were seniors or disabled increased slightly.
Federal housing assistance makes a critical difference in the lives of these individuals and families. And while HUD’s programs served over 4.5 million households in 2013, only about one in four eligible households receives assistance and many needy families remain on long waiting lists.
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