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America's Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014

Housing Problems

As young adults seek to develop independence, they often find that housing costs pose a barrier to forming new households, obtaining an education, relocating to find employment, or satisfying other needs. The prevalence of severe housing cost burdens has increased rapidly during the past 10 years, especially for renters with very low incomes.19 Many young adults cope with housing cost burdens by living in physically inadequate units, or by "doubling up" with roommates or moving back with parents.20 Physically inadequate housing and crowding resulting from such living arrangements can cause health problems.21, 22

Indicator Econ3: Prevalence of housing problems among all households with young adults ages 18–24 and among very low-income households with young adults by living arrangement, 2011
Prevalence of housing problems among all households with young adults ages 18–24 and among very low-income households with young adults by living arrangement, 2011

* Estimate is zero percent.

NOTE: Very low-income households are those with incomes not exceeding 50 percent of area median income, adjusted for family size. Inadequate housing refers to moderate or severe physical problems with the housing unit. Crowded housing refers to households with more than one person per room. Moderate cost burdens are total housing costs that exceed 30 percent of income, and severe cost burdens exceed 50 percent of income.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, American Housing Survey.

  • Households with young adults ages 18–24 totaled 20 million in 2011, of which 7 million households had very low incomes.
  • In 2011, severe housing cost burdens affected 20 percent of households with young adults, and the majority (52 percent) of those that had very low incomes.
  • Living arrangements generally have an important influence on the prevalence of severe cost burdens for households with young adults. During 2011, severe cost burdens affected 16 percent of households with young adults that included parents or a spouse, 25 percent of those with other adults, and 42 percent of those with no other adults.
  • Because very low incomes are a major cause of severe cost burden, living arrangement has relatively less effect on very low-income households with young adults. Those who are married, however, are somewhat less likely to have severe cost burdens.
  • Physically inadequate housing and crowded housing are less prevalent problems than are either severe or moderate cost burdens. Among very low-income households with young adults in 2011, 11 percent had inadequate housing and 9 percent were crowded.

table icon YAECON3 HTML Table

19 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2013). Worst case housing needs 2011: Report to Congress. Washington, DC: Office of Policy Development and Research. Retrieved from http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/HUD-506_WorstCase2011.pdf.

20 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2013). Analysis of trends in household composition using American Housing Survey data. Washington, DC: Office of Policy Development and Research. Retrieved from http://www.huduser.org/publications/ahsrep/AHS_household_comp.html.

21 Marsh, A., Gordon, D., Heslop, P., and Pantazis, C. (2000). Housing deprivation and health: A longitudinal analysis. Housing Studies 15(3), 411–428.

22 Pevalin, D., Taylor, M., and Todd, J. (2008). The dynamics of unhealthy housing in the UK: A panel data analysis. Housing Studies 23(5), 679–695.