U.S. Housing Cost Burden Declines Among Homeowners but Remains High for Renters

Date: April 15, 2022

In 15 states, at least half of all renting households spent at least 30% of their income on housing in 2020.

The pandemic has exposed acute differences in financial well-being and housing security among households in the United States. To gain a better understanding of the situation, PRB looked at recent historical trends in housing cost burden—defined as spending 30% or more of household income on housing costs—prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We found a widening gap between renters and homeowners in the share experiencing housing cost burden.

Housing costs include expenses like rent and utilities for renter-occupied households, and mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, and utilities for owner-occupied households.

Estimates for the share of households experiencing housing cost burden are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).1 This interactive graph shows patterns of housing cost burden by state from 2006 through 2019.

Note: Use the dropdown menu to the select the state to view housing cost trends.

The historical trend illustrates a widening gap in housing costs between households that rent and those that own a home with a mortgage. Nationwide, the share of renters spending 30% or more of their income on housing remained fairly steady since 2006, while the share of owners with a housing cost burden declined. The decline for homeowners may partly reflect tighter credit standards and declining mortgage interest rates in the years following the subprime mortgage crisis (2007-2010) and Great Recession (2007-2009).

Black and Hispanic renters are disproportionately affected by housing cost burden. Research from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University shows 42% of white households, 42% of Asian households, 52% of Hispanic households, and 54% of Black households experienced rental cost burden in 2019. Differences in rental cost burden across racial/ethnic groups have remained relatively stable over time.2

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic—including job losses, reduced hours, and declining incomes—may have increased the housing cost burden for many households in 2020. Using the experimental 2020 ACS 1-Year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS), we calculated the percentage of renters and owners spending 30% or more of their income on housing expenses.3 This interactive map shows the share of renters and owners experiencing housing cost burden across states.


Note: The “Rent Burden” and “Mortgage Burden” buttons can be used to switch between displaying the cost burden of renting or owning a home.
Estimates of households experiencing housing cost burden are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 ACS Public Use Microdata Sample with Experimental Weights.4

The Census Bureau faced considerable challenges collecting ACS data in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in greater non-response bias and reduced sample size. Data from the 2020 ACS PUMS 1-year files using experimental weights should not be compared with other PUMS data.

In 2020, 49% of renters spent at least 30% of their household income on housing costs in 2020, compared with 27% of homeowners. In 15 states, at least half of renters spent at least 30% of their income on housing.

States With the Highest Share of Renters Experiencing Housing Cost Burden
State Percentage of Renters Experiencing Housing Cost Burden
Florida 57%
Hawaii 56%
California 53%
New Mexico 52%
Nevada 51%
Oregon 51%
Louisiana 51%
New York 51%
South Carolina 51%
Georgia 51%
New Jersey 51%
Colorado 50%
Connecticut 50%
Delaware 50%
Mississippi 50%

Renter and owner costs were generally lowest in the Midwestern states in 2020, and highest on the East and West Coasts.

In Wyoming, 36% of renters faced housing cost burden—the lowest rate in the nation—compared to 57% in Florida (the highest). Homeowners in Indiana had the lowest housing cost burden (18%) while owners in California had the highest burden (37%). Early in the pandemic, federal and state policymakers enacted relief measures such as emergency rental assistance and eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to help households struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19. However, many of these programs expired in 2021, putting millions of people at risk of being evicted or losing their homes. High housing costs are especially hard on low-income families and their children, who often struggle to cover basic expenses for food, transportation, child care, and health care.


1 Household gross rent data are from table B25070. Homeowner data are from table B25091. More information on the ACS can be found here: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs.

2 Sophia Wedeen, “Black and Hispanic Renters Face Greatest Threat of Eviction in Pandemic,” Housing Perspectives (blog), January 11, 2021.

3 The 2020 ACS 1-Year PUMS file is an experimental data product and may not meet all the Census Bureau’s quality standards. More information on experimental data products can be found here: https://www.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products.html; PUMS variables GRPIP and OCPIP were used to calculate gross rent and monthly owner costs, respectively.

4 U.S. Census Bureau, 2020 ACS 1-Year Public Use Microdata Sample with Experimental Weights.