Housing insecurity

Housing insecurity refers to the lack of security in an individual’s shelter that is the result of high housing costs relative to income, poor housing quality, unstable neighborhoods, overcrowding, and, but may not include, homelessness.

Housing insecurity is defined as precarious tenure, due to cost burden, crowding, unsafe living conditions, or a combination of these causes, and has direct and indirect effects on health.

Housing affordability is defined as the ratio of annualized housing costs to annual income. 

If an individual is housing insecure if they spend more than 30% or 50% of their annual income on housing.

Housing safety is defined as a housing issue that presents an imminent health threat, such as inadequate heating capacity, faulty foundation, evidence of rodents, exposed electrical and more. 

Housing quality is defined as housing that is substandard but does not pose an imminent health risk, such as no cooking unit, no hot/cold water, no drinking water, and faulty sewage.

Neighborhood safety is defined as living in a neighborhood that presents imminent health threats, such as a factory is located within half a block, unit is in a flood plain, and unsatisfactory police presence.

Neighborhood quality is defined as households in neighborhoods with undesirable characteristics that do not pose an imminent health risk, such as poor city/county services, unit is boarded up, roads need repairs, no stores within fifteen minutes, and more. 

Homelessness is defined as households who define housing type at the time of interviews as either tent, cave, railroad car, unspecified housing unit, a boat, an RV, or an unoccupied site for a mobile home, trailer or tent.

The UN defines security of tenure as having tenure security which guarantees legal protection against forced evictions, harassment, and other threats. 

Associations exist between  unreliable housing and factors such as race, income, and family type.

Housing insecure households are likely to consist of unmarried people. 57% of housing insecure households are made up of unmarried individuals that do not have children.

The second largest category is unmarried households with children, which makes up 21% of the distribution. 

63% of housing insecure households are extremely low income, which means their annual income is less than the Federal Poverty Level or 30% of the Area Median Income.

Most people facing housing insecurity are not seniors.

 Most people facing housing insecurity are renters. 

A lack of education has an especially evident association with housing insecurity. 

Within housing insecure households, 18% of individuals have a bachelor’s or graduate degree.

housing insecure households:  50% have no college experience. 

55% of housing insecure households are white.

Rates of housing insecurity are fairly consistent across the United States. 

For the majority of states, between 10% and 15% of households are housing insecure. 

Wyoming has the least housing insecurity.

California and New York have the most housing insecurity; 20% of households face housing insecurity.

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