The lack of affordable housing is impacting certain segments of the population. A Harvard University study shows that of those tenants that pay more than 50% of their household income for their rent, many of them often lack education. The study shows that almost 2/3 have only a GED level or even less education.
There are numerous reasons for the under educated living paycheck to paycheck when it comes to their rent. Many of the tenants with a high school diploma/GED (or with no degree at all) often were not provided the financial literacy skills they need during their youth, and they obviously did not pick it up in school. So combine the fact that they often have a low income and do not know how to budget properly, this is causing many people to struggle with their rent and other bills.
The economy is also slowly changing. Higher wage jobs are going to people with more education and skills. People with a GED often are left out, so they fall behind with their rent and every other bill for that matter. The lack of education, and therefore income, is a major barrier to families meeting their housing needs.
While this has been going on for dozens if not hundreds of years, what is causing this issue to become even more prevalent is the lack of affordable housing. There are some regions in the United States in which landlords are increasing tenants rents by 2-3 times the rate of inflation. When the cost of housing is going up that quickly, and the incomes of someone with a high school level education is flat, this is a lethal combination that is bound to lead to evictions and/or homelessness.
The Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies takes it a step further as well. They say this lack of affordable housing, and the fact that 50% or more of income is going towards rent, very well leads to poverty. So it is a cause, and not a result. It causes tenants to often need to move, or they are evicted.
Then, where they end up, may be in crime infested neighborhoods with poor quality schools. The new home may also be far from their job or public transit, which often causes even more money being spent on transportation to work or even job terminations.
People spending 50% of their income for leasing a home come from all backgrounds. They have different ages, races, and genders too. 23% are white, 30% Hispanic, and 33% are black. 38% are under the age of 25 and 30% are over the age of 65, with all ages in the middle.
The Joint Center for Housing strongly advocates for the less educated. While their income may be low, with proper budgeting skills the tenant can learn how to pay for their rent and other bills using their income. Maybe they need a roommate, or cut back on eating out, put off having a child or taken other steps. This budgeting skills are often critical to stopping not only homeless but poverty.
There are also rent assistance programs that are open to tenants with a GED or no education. This can really help those that are paying 50% or more of their income for housing. The possible solutions include section 8 income based housing as well as government job training to name but a few. They will often help pay for a portion of the housing, so that 50% of their income is not used. Many agencies can direct tenants to places to turn to for rent help.
Using a combination of financial literacy, emphasis on job training and budgeting, and ongoing case management, there is assistance for under-educated renters. They need to take the steps to help themselves end the cycle, no matter how difficult it may seem.