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Institute for Housing Studies Report

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Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University releases report on

The state of rental housing in Cook County


The need for affordable rental housing in Cook County has increased substantially in the last decade and is expected to continue to grow in the coming decade as well, according to a new study issued by the Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) at DePaul University. These trends mirror a national shortage of affordable rental housing.

The State of Rental Housing in Cook County highlights the growing gap between the supply of and the demand for affordable rental housing in Cook County. It examines the causes for this growing affordability gap and forecasts that this gap will likely to grow larger by 
2020 without interventions to preserve and expand the affordable rental housing stock. In the wake of the housing and economic crisis, access to affordable rental housing is critical for the stability and economic security of low- and middle-income families and communities in Cook County.

However, in 2009, there was a shortage of 180,000 affordable rental units in the County, an increase of more than 9 percent from 2005. This growing gap can largely be attributed to an increased demand for affordable housing as more renter households saw their incomes reduced as a result of the economic downturn. The IHS study estimated that this gap is likely to grow by an estimated 44,000 units by 2020. Broadly speaking, housing is considered affordable when a family pays no more than 30 percent of their income for shelter. In the IHS report, affordable rental housing is defined as rental units affordable to households making $32,931 or less. At this income, families should pay no more than $823 per month for rent.

Other key findings from the report include:

More households are renting again. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of renter-occupied homes in Cook County increased by nearly 54,000, while the number of owner-occupied homes decreased by more than 63,000.

Renter households making less than $35,000 annually pay the most. Nearly 80 percent of renters making less than $20,000 per year and 75 percent of renters making between $20,000 and $34,000 pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent and basic utilities. The median income for renter households in 2009 was $31,367. This was 43.9 percent of the median household income for owners which was $71,489.

Young households, in particular, need access to affordable rental housing. In 2009, over 90 percent of households younger than 25 were renters, but these households saw their purchasing power decline over the last decade. After adjusting for inflation, households under 25 saw their median incomes decline by over 25 percent between 2000 and 2009.

Over the last half of the 2000s, rents increased Although rents in Chicago decreased by 1.9 percent and rents in suburban Cook County decreased by 4.3 percent between 2008 and 2010, the County has still seen a net increase in rents since 2005. Real median rents rose 14.1 percent in Chicago and 13.3 percent in the suburbs between 2005 and 2010.

The foreclosure crisis has affected communities that need affordable rental housing. Foreclosures impacted 97,000 rental units in Cook County between 2007 and 2010. Nearly 21 percent of all units in multifamily rental properties in low-income communities were affected by foreclosure during that period.

Foreclosures on larger rental properties are shifting to the suburbs. Of all Cook County foreclosures on multifamily buildings with five or more units, the percent of these foreclosures that are in the suburbs increased from 12 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2010.

IHS produced this report in partnership with the Preservation Compact. The Preservation Compact is a coordinated strategy to preserve and improve the supply of existing affordable rental homes that might otherwise be lost due to condominium conversion, demolition, vacancy, or rising costs. The study, was funded with generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It is part of a series of IHS reports designed to provide affordable housing practitioners, government housing agencies and community organizations with reliable and impartial data about the state of affordable housing in Cook County and the Chicago region.

If you have questions about the report, contact Geoff Smith at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

About the Institute for Housing Studies (IHS)
The Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) is a multidisciplinary academic and applied research center situated in the Real Estate Center at
DePaul University. IHS provide data and analysis to inform affordable housing-related policy and resource allocation decisions. More about HIS and its research can be found at www.IHS.depaul.edu.

About The Preservation Compact
The Preservation Compact brings together the region's public, private and nonprofit leaders to address the loss of affordable rental housing stock in Cook County. Coordinated by Community Investment Corporation (CIC) with support from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Compact has six areas of focus to preserve and improve existing affordable rental homes that might otherwise be lost to condominium conversion, demolition, or rising costs.

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