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Housing Scarce for Poor in DeKalb

Published: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 1:41 p.m. CST

By Paul Tooher

It’s getting harder for the poor to find a place they can afford to live.

That’s according to a study conducted by the Urban Institute, which found that for every 100 extremely low-income (ELI) renter households in the country, there are only 29 affordable and available rental units.

An ELI household is defined by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as one that earns 30 percent of area median income or less.

And the situation is even worse in DeKalb, including DeKalb County, according to the report.

For every 100 ELI renter households in the county, there are only 11 affordable and available rental units. In this area, households of four earning less than $22,500 are classified as ELI.

That means that there are 7,931 households competing for 840 affordable and available housing units. And of those 840 units, 769 are receiving HUD assistance to keep their rents low.

Out of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, the biggest gap in affordability can be found in Cobb County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, with only 2.8 units available for every 100 ELI households. That’s followed by Lee County, Fla.; Denton County, Texas; Clark County, Nev.; Travis County, Texas; Orange County, Calif.; Gwinnett County, Ga.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; Broward County, Fla.; and DeKalb County, Ga.

Suffolk County, Mass., including Boston, had the smallest gap, with 50.4 units available for every 100 ELI households. Four other Massachusetts counties also made the top 10 list, including Middlesex, Worcester, Norfolk and Essex. Other areas on the list include Washington, D.C.; Hennepin County, Minn.; Jefferson County, Ala.; Hartford County, Conn.; and Philadelphia County, Pa.

Areas that saw the gap grow at the fastest rate between 2000 and 2012 include Wayne County, Mich., including Detroit; Florida’s Lee County; Shelby County, Tenn., including Memphis; Milwaukee County, Wis.; Fulton County, Ga.; Duval County, Fla.; Georgia’s Cobb County; Cook County, including Chicago, and Mecklenburg County, N.C., including Charlotte, an emerging financial center.

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