The renter population grew in both central city and suburban areas while more renters struggled to find affordable housing in the 11 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to the NYU Furman Center/Capital One National Affordable Rental Housing Landscape report, released Tuesday.

The Landscape examined rental housing affordability trends in the nation's largest metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco from 2006 to 2014 and identified the impact these trends had as the renter population increased while affordable housing rates continued to decline. "Affordable" rent should comprise less than 30 percent of a household's income.

Major cities where more than half of the population rents, 2006-2013

In all 11 metro areas, both the renter population and housing stock grew during this period. By the end of the period, the number and proportion of people renting had increased—both within central cities and in the surrounding suburbs. The report also showed a gap between growing demand and supply. From 2006 to 2014, the renter population grew faster than the stock of rental units in the 11 largest metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, pushing the average rental household size up and putting pressure on the affordability of rental housing.

"This study shows that affordable housing is becoming increasingly out of reach for many low- and even moderate-income renters in the nation's largest metro areas—both in the central cities and their surrounding suburbs," said Ingrid Gould Ellen, Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center. "In all of the metro areas we studied, the renter population grew faster than the housing stock. As supply did not keep pace with this growth in demand, vacancy rates decreased, the average number of people living in a rental unit increased, and, in most areas, rents rose."

On average, in metro areas nationwide, rents rose faster than incomes. In nine of the 11 largest U.S. metro areas, the typical renter could afford fewer than 40 percent of the units on the market in the previous year. In the Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles metro areas, the typical renter could afford fewer than 25 percent of recent units.

Seven of the 11 largest metro areas also became less affordable to the typical renter between 2006 and 2014. The seven metro areas are Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

"Millions of people nationwide are struggling with the gap in affordable housing, leaving many rent-burdened as the population of renters continues to increase," said Laura Bailey, Managing Vice President, Community Finance, Capital One, one of the nation's top 10 affordable housing lenders. "At Capital One, we're committed to working with the nation's leading housing developers and investing in high-impact communities to respond to the needs of our nation's most vulnerable residents. We know that our investment in affordable rental housing needs to go beyond just financing construction – it requires creating innovative solutions and strong collaboration among public and private sectors, which creates a ripple effect in expanding economic opportunities within our local communities."

Renter Population Increasing Throughout Metropolitan Areas
The rental population is booming – in 2014, there were nearly 22 million more renters in metro areas in the U.S. than in 2006.

  • In all of the metropolitan areas, the renter population grew in both the principal cities and the surrounding suburbs between 2006 and 2014, consistent with metro areas nationwide.
  • In 2014, among the 11 largest metro areas, the majority of central-city residents were renters everywhere except the Houston and Philadelphia metro areas.
  • Affordable housing out of reach for many
  • In the majority of the 11 metropolitan areas, the number of rental units that were affordable to the typical renter fell between 2006 and 2014.
  • Of the 11 largest U.S. metro areas, the Washington, D.C. metro area was the least affordable to the typical U.S. renter household in 2014, followed by the San Francisco and Los Angeles metro areas.
  • Dallas and Houston metro areas were the most affordable to the median U.S. renter household.
  • More renters lived in single-family homes
  • While single-family homes are often assumed to be owner-occupied, a sizable and growing portion of renters in the 11 metro areas lived in single-family units in 2014.
  • In all 11 metros, and in metros nationwide, a greater share of renter households lived in single-family homes in 2014 than did in 2006. Atlanta, Philadelphia and Houston were the top three cities with the most renters living in single-family homes.
  • In every metro except for Boston and New York City, more than one in five renters lived in a single-family home in 2014.
  • Considerable gap in supply and demand
  • The mismatched growth in demand and supply for rental units pushed rental vacancy rates down.
  • In the 11 largest metros, and in metros nationwide, the renter population grew more quickly than the number of rental housing units between 2006 and 2014, putting pressure on rental households.
  • Fewer rental units were affordable to renter households in the majority of metro areas
  • Incomes lagged well behind rents in the majority of the 11 metropolitan areas.
  • Seven out of the 11 largest metro areas became less affordable to the typical renter between 2006 and 2014.
  • In nine of the 11 largest metros, the typical renter in 2014 could have afforded less than 40 percent of recently available units.
  • In 2014, one quarter of renters in seven of the 11 largest metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, were severely rent burdened, facing rents equal to at least half of their income.
  • The overwhelming majority of low-income renters were severely rent-burdened
  • In all 11 metro areas, low-income renters faced much more significant affordability challenges. Rising rents were not confined to central cities: in all but one of the metro areas studied, rents rose in the suburbs as well.
  • In eight of the 11 metros, at least a quarter of moderate-income renters—those earning between the 25th and 50th percentile income among renters in the metro area—faced severe rent burden.
  • In all 11 metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, well over half of low-income renters, earning less than the 25th percentile renter income in their metro area, faced rents at or above half of their household income.
  • Average household size increased
  • In all 11 metro areas, the average number of people in each rental household rose.
  • Metro area units that were owner-occupied in 2005 but renter-occupied in 2013 had, on average, about 2.8 bedrooms, higher than the average of 2.1 bedrooms among all rental units in 2013.

U.S. Metropolitan Areas – Rental Facts at a Glance

  • Between 2006 and 2014, the renter population grew while more and more renters faced difficulty finding affordable housing.
  • The number and share of renters increased in both the central cities and the surrounding suburbs of all 11 metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, between 2006 and 2014.
  • The rental housing stock grew much faster than the ownership stock in all 11 metro areas and in metro areas nationwide between 2006 and 2014.
  • The share of renters living in single-family homes grew between 2006 and 2014 in the 11 largest metro areas in the U.S. and in metro areas nationwide.
  • In six of the 11 largest metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, the increase in the number of single-family rental units between 2006 and 2014 was larger than the increase in multifamily rental units.
  • Between 2006 and 2014, the renter population grew faster than the stock of rental units in the 11 largest metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, pushing the average rental household size up and putting pressure on the affordability of rental housing.
  • The rental vacancy rate dropped in 10 of the 11 largest metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, between 2006 and 2014.
  • In 10 of the 11 largest metro areas, and in metro areas nationwide, the median gross rent rose between 2006 and 2014, both in the central cities and the surrounding suburbs.
  • In 2014, the overwhelming majority of low-income renters were severely rent burdened in the 11 largest metro areas and in metro areas nationwide.
  • In 2014, rental units that had been on the market within the past year in the 11 largest metro areas and in metro areas nationwide had higher rents and were less affordable than units which had not been recently available, raising the prospect of greater affordability challenges yet to come.

The study was commissioned by Capital One and conducted by the NYU Furman Center. Data analysis is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, including data from the American Community Survey from 2006 through 2014, and uses geographic information from the Missouri Census Data Center.

About the NYU Furman Center
The NYU Furman Center advances research and debate on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy. It is a joint center of the New York University School of Law and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.