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Center for Housing Policy Releases 2005 Working Families Report

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  Issue 27, Spring 2005

As reported in the National Low Income Housing Coalition's April 29 Memo to Members (

Center for Housing Policy Releases 2005 Working Families Report

by Jim Schaafsma, MPLP Housing Law Attorney

A new report from the Center for Housing Policy based on the American Housing Survey finds that between 1997 and 2003 there has been a 67% increase in the number of low and moderate income working families facing critical housing needs, spending more than half of their income on housing or living in physically dilapidated units. The report also includes detailed information on the housing situations of recent immigrants. The report concludes, "contrary to conventional wisdom, housing problems are not confined to cities, renters, or the nation's coasts," and that "working a full time job does not guarantee a family a decent, affordable place to live."

The report focuses on "working families," defined as those who work the equivalent of a full time job and have salaries and wages between the federal minimum wage ($10,712) and 120% of the area median income. The underlying data make clear that even among working families the greatest housing need appears among those with the lowest income and families the report describes as "not working" with salaries and wages that are less than 25% of the minimum wage ($2,678), and those who are marginally employed, earning between 25% and 100% of the minimum wage.

This report highlights the growing housing cost burdens and other housing problems faced by low and moderate income working families, which may make policy makers and the general public more aware of the need for affordable housing. But it also makes clear that the difficulties remain concentrated among the poorest households. The report can be found at