Housing Affordabilty: Renters and Owners

This indicator shows the percent of households who are not housing cost-burdened, defined as those who spend less than 30% of their income on housing costs, including rent or mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance, and fees. This is a common measure of housing affordability.

About 2 in 3 King County households (65%), including renters, owners with mortgages, and owners without mortgages, paid less than 30% of their income for housing costs. Among all households in King County during 2013-2017, 43% of households were renters, 42% were owners with mortgages, and 15% were owners without mortgages.

Households that pay a high percentage of their income for housing have less left for other necessities. People who live in unaffordable housing may scrimp on food and forego necessary healthcare and medications. The quest for affordable housing can mean moving far from family, friends, work, school, and childcare arrangements, or living in substandard housing.

  • Trends: The proportion of households with affordable housing costs decreased from 2005-2010, then increased during the recession from 2010 to 2015. Since then, it has remained roughly flat. Washington State as a whole had similar trends over this time period.

  • Race and ethnicity: American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic, Multiple race households were all less likely than King County average to spend less than 30% of their income on housing, disproportionately experiencing housing cost burdens.

  • Gender: Male-headed households were somewhat more likely to have affordable housing costs than female-headed households (69% compared to 61%).

  • Age: Households headed by those ages 25 – 64 were most likely to have affordable housing costs (68%). In contrast, 59% of households headed by people age 65 and older spent less than 30% of their income on housing, and only 37% of households headed by 18-24 year olds met this threshold for affordability.

  • Income and poverty: Those with higher incomes were most likely to spend less than 30% of it on housing. 94% of households with annual incomes of at least $100,000 had lower housing cost burden, compared to only 11% of those earning less than $20,000. Similarly, those living under the poverty level were most likely to spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Even those living at 200-399% of the federal poverty level were less than half as likely as those living at 400% or more of the federal poverty level to have affordable housing costs.

  • Region and city/neighborhood: Many cities in South King County had lower rates of people living with lower housing cost burdens, and as a whole people in the South Region were less likely to have affordable housing than those in other parts of King County. In addition, those living in the Beacon Hill/Georgetown/South Park, Delridge, North Seattle, Northwest Seattle, and Southeast Seattle neighborhoods were less likely than King County average to spend less than 30% of their income on housing.

  • Ownership status: Home owners were more likely to pay less than 30% of their income for housing costs than renters (70% compared to 54%).

On each tab of the visualization, the default view is of all households. You can also look at data specific to renters or owners with mortgages by selecting that group from the list or dropdown menu in each tab. For more details on households who do not have a severe housing cost burden (defined as spending less than 50% of income on housing), see here

 

Notes & Sources

Source: American Community Survey, and Public Use Microdata Sample, US Census Bureau (2013-2017)

 

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