Quick Hit Wednesday April 27th, 2011, 11:15am

Number Of The Day: 1 in 3

That is the number of Chicago-area renters who are “severely burdened” by rental costs, spending at least half their household income on rent and utilities, according to a study (PDF) by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. That number is up 8.2 percent in the last decade.

In 2000, 20.4 percent of Chicago renters were severely burdened and by 2009, that number was 28.6 percent. Miami-area renters were the most severely burdened at 34.2 percent, while Des Moines-area renters had the lowest burden rate at 17.9 percent. Nationally, 56 percent of low-income households and 23 percent of those in the middle-income range are “moderately burdened” by spending 30 percent to 50 percent of their household income on renting costs.

The study also shows a household income of $51,800 is needed to pay the “affordable monthly rent” of $1,300. The reality, however, is that while the median renter income is $30,500 (according to 2009 numbers), and the full-time minimum wage worker’s annual income is $14,500. The minimum wage worker income was determined by considering the pay of someone earning $7.25 per hour on a 40-hour work week for 50 weeks a year.

This comes at a time when more than a quarter of low-cost rental stock has been lost since 1999, due to higher rent, conversion to seasonal use or ownership, and some “temporarily lost” as units may be condemned or uninhabitable, the study said. Meanwhile, the recession has forced many households who lost their homes to foreclosure to become renters too. In 2008, a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition first indicated how out of reach affordable housing was, and Progress Illinois has tracked Chicago City Council's Sweet Home Ordinance, one of the most substantial affordable housing bills the legislative body has debated in years.

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