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2016 Housing Fact Book Released

Published on September 16, 2016

The Housing Fact Book presents a detailed portrait of housing affordability throughout the Ocean State, where both renters and homeowners (particularly the state’s lower and middle income groups) face high rates of housing cost burden. A household is considered cost burdened when it spends more than 30 percent of its income on housing.

Housing cost burdens continue to persist in the Ocean State. From 2000 to 2014, the percent of both homeowner and renter households that are considered cost burdened increased in Rhode Island. Currently, about half of all Rhode Island renter households, 1 in 3 homeowner households with a mortgage, and 1 in 5 homeowner households without a mortgage are housing cost burdened.

Nationally renowned sociologist and eviction expert Matthew Desmond was on hand to address community members, political leaders and housing partners when HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University unveiled the 2016 Housing Fact Book on Wednesday, September 14th. Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University, was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” grant in 2015, and is currently on a national tour in support of his acclaimed nonfiction work, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” – an exacting portrait of the intricate relationship between poverty and housing in America.

Throughout his speaking tour in cities across the United States, Desmond has reiterated the direct correlation of the lack of quality affordable housing and increasing evictions – a cycle that keeps the poor impoverished, he says. Desmond cites data from his research that demonstrates an increasing gap in soaring rents and flat or falling pay among lower incomes; nationally, he notes, 25 percent of poor families spend 70 percent of their income on housing – 40 percent more than what is widely acknowledged to be affordable.

“Professor Desmond’s book highlights the negative impacts that housing insecurity has on too many Rhode Islanders and individuals across the country,” said HWRI Director Brenda Clement, noting that of the 40 percent of renter households in Rhode Island, 8,587 experienced evictions in 2014. “The lack of affordable housing often prevents individuals and families from achieving economic stability.”