Housing Challenges 

Affordable Housing

People who find it hard to get access to affordable, quality housing also have difficulty meeting their health care needs. 

  • More than 50 million U.S. households can’t afford their basic monthly budget for housing, food, transportation, child care, health care and phone bill.
  • From 1987 to 2015, the number of low-income renters grew by 6 million, yet the number of those receiving assistance increased only to 950,000. In 2015, 38% of all renter households were rent burdened.
  • The number of severely cost-burdened renters — those paying more than 30% (up to 50% or more in some markets) of their monthly income on rent and utilities — grew by 42% in 2001-15, to 17% overall.


Housing instability can affect mental and physical health as well as ability to access health care. This is a critical issue within the housing ecosystem.

  • About 568,000 people in the United States are homeless on any given night — about 193,000 of them are "unsheltered."
  • Nearly one in 10 college students experience homelessness.
  • Almost 60,000 families with children are homeless on any given night in the United States. Nationally, that means 7.4 out of every 10,000 families are homeless.

Innovative Housing

Innovative practices are transforming the housing ecosystem around the world:

  • A sustainable building startup organization and housing charity have unveiled a plan to create a village of 600- to 800-square-foot houses that are 3D-printed in a day — cutting the time, effort and cost of production.
  • In Providence, Rhode Island, America’s oldest shopping mall was transformed into a mix of affordable micro-apartments and local businesses such as restaurants and a hair salon.
  • A study by the Urban Institute showed that community land trusts can help lower-income renters afford housing, even as property values rise. The study also found growing popularity in shared housing, which is two or more people sharing a home in exchange for rent or services such as cleaning or cooking.
  • According to The Atlantic, in Europe, all-inclusive Alzheimer’s Villages allow residents to maintain their independence and roam freely in a safe and secure gated community. These villages have shown benefits for people with Alzheimer’s, including decreased agitation, aggression and anxiety.

Neighborhood Quality

The quality of your neighborhood affects your health and well-being. Challenges facing residents in disadvantaged neighborhoods include:

  • Children who live in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty are less likely to have safe places to play.
  • Black youth are 10 times more likely to live in a poor neighborhood than their white peers. They’re also are more likely to suffer from poor-quality schools, environmental hazards, violence and other factors that hinder a healthy life.
  • Poor neighborhoods are more likely to have conditions that pose a risk to children’s health, such as poor air quality, mold, pests and lead in paint and plumbing.
  • Children who live in poor neighborhoods are more likely to experience adverse situations such as witnessing violence.