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  • Jason Tuvia

Freddie Mac: These are the Most Rent-Burdened Housing Markets

Updated: Apr 6, 2019

GSE releases analysis on rent-burdened communities

It’s not exactly a secret that affordability for both home buyers and renters is shrinking. But how much is too much? 

This week, Freddie Mac released a paper analyzing rent-burdened housing markets across the U.S. and found that Miami and San Diego are the two most rent-burdened metros in the country. Freddie Mac’s analysis looks at four widely cited affordability studies that cover the Top 50 largest U.S. metro areas. The GSE looked at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2018 Gap report and its 2018 Out of Reach report as well as the New York University Furman Center’s 2018 National Rental Housing Landscape report and Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies 2017 Rental Housing report.

“Rental affordability is a significant challenge for metropolitan areas across the United States,” said Steve Guggenmos, Freddie Mac’s VP of Multifamily Research and Modeling. “The vast majority of the units Freddie Mac finances are affordable. Even so, our research shows that supply just hasn’t kept pace with demand in many metros, and that’s pushing affordable rents out of reach for millions of American families.”

Surprisingly, San Francisco isn’t on the top of the list, despite being labeled recently as the most expensive rental market in the word. The Bay Area city actually isn’t even in the top 10 and places 13th on Freddie’s list of most rent-burdened metros. Freddie noted that very high-cost markets like SF and Washington, D.C. are not at the top of the list because while rents in both areas are relatively high, incomes are also higher.

“Lower income households in these highest cost markets are amongst the most burdened by the lack of affordable housing, though it is not reflected in the measures reviewed,” Freddie Mac said in its press release. 

Guggenmos pointed out that analyses of rents don’t always consider the impact of high rents on residents that may earn well below an area’s median renter income.

“What tends to be lost in the analysis is the impact of high rents on tenants who earn well below the median renter income. Firefighters, police officers, teachers and other members of a city’s vital workforce earn only modestly more than their suburban or rural counterparts. As a result, they often struggle to afford housing in the communities in which they serve,” said Guggenmos.

Here’s the top 20 most rent-burdened cities (in order), according to Freddie Mac:

Miami, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, New Orleans, Tampa, San Jose, Riverside, Virginia Beach, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Portland, Chicago, Atlanta, Sacramento, Austin, Richmond

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