There’s a clear housing affordability crisis in the US, with the most recent data point coming from the National Multifamily Housing Council, which laid out the headline numbers in a new research note. “More than half of all US apartment households were cost burdened in 2020—paying more than 30% of their income on rent,” wrote Chris Bruen, NMHC senior director of research. “However, many of these households had different financial conditions driving their burden status.”

That last sentence is where things get complicated and sticky, especially in a political climate when so many want things to be so simple. Using custom tabulations of 2020 American Community Survey, NMHC identified multiple profiles of cost-burdened renters and discussed three that make up 43% of the whole category. (The categories when added together only seem to tally 42%, so the remaining 1% is likely an issue of rounding.)

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