A new Harvard report says 22.4 million households in the United States now spend more than 30 percent of their income in rent, with 12.1 million spending more than 50 percent.

Half of all renters in the United States spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities, more than at any other time in history, according to a new report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The center’s analysis of 2022 census data found that 22.4 million renter households are burdened, with a record 12.1 million spending more than half their income on housing. The surge in housing costs affects a wide swath of renters, from low-income households to higher earners. Middle-income renters earning from $30,000 to $74,999 saw the sharpest rise in cost burden since 2019. And a record number of Americans — 653,100 — were homeless on a given night in January 2023, the report found.

“It was astounding to see,” said Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a senior research associate at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Really broadly, across the income spectrum, it was getting worse for everyone.”

Renters are still paying the financial consequences of the pandemic, when rents in cities across the country rose by double-digit percent increases as Americans moved during a period of remote work. Even as the rental market cools — asking rents fell by almost 1 percent in 2023 — they are still up 19 percent from the start of the pandemic, according to Apartment List. “It’s definitely worse than it’s ever been,” said Cea Weaver, a campaign coordinator at Housing Justice for All in New York. “Middle class people, lower middle class people, working class people, they cannot afford their rent.”

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