Mia Maldonado

(Idaho Capital Sun) Low-income renters in Idaho have less affordable housing options than in previous years, according to a press release from the Idaho Asset Building Network.

Earlier in March, the Idaho building network and the National Low-Income Housing Coalition released the results of its annual The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes report.

According to the 2023 report, Idaho has 38 affordable rental homes for every 100 households with extremely low incomes — a decrease from 2022 when there were 42 affordable rental housing units for every 100 households and 40 in 2021.

The report includes data from all 50 states and focuses on the housing needs of individuals with extremely low incomes — or those that earn at or below the federal poverty level, or 30% of their area median income.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, research shows that between 2019 and 2021, the shortage of affordable housing for extremely low-income renters in the country worsened by more than 8%, or 500,000 housing units.

According to this year’s report, about one-quarter of the 44.1 million renters in the U.S. earn an extremely low income. The report also indicates that the U.S. has a shortage of 7.3 million rental homes affordable and available for those renters.

‘A serious housing crisis’: Idaho organizations talk rent burden, sustainability

According to the research, there are approximately 40,000 extremely low-income renter households in Idaho, but only about 15,000 affordable rental homes are available.

The state would need nearly 25,000 rental units to supplement the demand for affordable housing for low-income families.

Idaho Asset Building Network policy associate Kendra Knighten said it is in the state’s best interest to increase the development of more affordable homes. She said eviction and homelessness are traumatic and expensive experiences for families.

“Families and children thrive when they live in affordable homes, but too many Idaho families don’t have that option right now due to high rents and an insufficient supply of affordable and available homes statewide,” Knighten said in the press release.

According to the organization, a home is considered affordable when a family spends no more than 30% of their income on rent, allowing them enough extra for other necessities including groceries, childcare, gas and health care.

The 2023 report shows that about 66% of extremely low-income renter families in Idaho are facing severe rent burden.

Intermountain Fair Housing Council executive director Zoe Ann Olson said in the press release that her organization helped Idahoans in all 44 counties access almost $2 million in federal relief funds to provide rental assistance and hotel vouchers for people at risk of eviction and homelessness.

“This emergency rental and voucher assistance is a life saver when tenants are facing eviction or sharp rent increases, but it is not enough when we have over 14 mass evictions throughout Idaho, and there are no shelters and little to no affordable, accessible housing for those living below 100% of AMI in most counties,” she said in the press release.

Olson said Idaho residents are facing a “serious housing crisis” for which federal funding cannot solve.

In the press release, the building network said it supports policies that create long-term housing solutions, such as the Housing Trust Fund, a program that allocates funds to states to help them preserve and build more affordable homes across their state.

“Investing in the national Housing Trust Fund will promote the creation and preservation of affordable homes and incentivize Idaho developers to build more affordable homes across our state and ensure all Idahoans have access to a safe and affordable home,” the press release said.