A record number of Americans are spending more than the standard 30% of their income on rent, reports Wall Street Journal staffer Laura Kusisto. According to data published Wednesday in a report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reveals that more than 21 million households are burdened by how much they pay in rent, an increase from fewer than 15 million in 2001. Almost half of renters are paying more than 30% of their incomes in rent, a 13-year high.
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Inflation-adjusted rents rose 7% from 2001 to 2014, while renter household incomes fell 9%, creating affordability challenges for many renters. A recent boom in construction would normally be expected to ease such concerns by providing a flood of new supply. One reason that hasn’t happened is simply that new supply hasn’t kept up with the swell in demand. In mid-2015, 43 million families and individuals lived in rental housing, up nearly 9 million from 2005—the largest gain in any 10-year period on record. In contrast, the number of rental units expanded by just 8.2 million, most of that from the conversion of single-family homes into rentals.