Supply of the region’s low-cost rentals decreases over last decade

Jul 17, 2023
| Posted in
union hill apartments photo

Over 60% of this decline occurred in units renting for less than $600 per month. These figures come from new research released by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS). These findings track with trends in rental markets across the country where rising rents are generating serious financial hardship for low-income renters and extremely challenging conditions for policymakers. Simply put, the growing need is outpacing current approaches to addressing affordable housing. 

In addition to the new report, the JCHC also released an interactive tool to look at changes in rental supply by state and by monthly rent. At the state level, Missouri lost over 87,000 or 12.6% of units renting for under $1,000. Kansas lost nearly 13,000 units or over 4% in the same category. Over the same period, there was a 92% increase in the number of units renting over $1,000 in Missouri and a 76% increase in Kansas.

The Regional Housing Partnership’s Housing Data Hub shows a similar trend across the region. In the data hub, you can dig deeper into changes by county or city. This work uses the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data from 2016-2021. It shows a decline in rentals under $1,000 in every county in our region except Leavenworth and Ray counties. In these counties, there were declines in units under $750. The teal colors in the chart below indicate units under $1,000.

rental cost range percent change by county

Our previous research found the region did not have enough affordable housing units to meet the needs of our community. The region’s current gap in affordable units is 64,000, with the greatest need being for low-income households. Rentals at this price point have seen the highest drop in availability nationally and at the state level. Over the last decade, the number of units renting for under $600 a month fell by 31% in Missouri and 26% in Kansas, according to data from JCHC. 

Our work and that of JCHC illustrate housing affordability is a challenge continuing to grow each year. It will require a variety of approaches to provide more affordable options for people across our region and to build regional prosperity for everyone.