The nation’s economic news continues to be dismal, with the U.S. Census Bureau announcing yesterday that the poverty rate has increased and median household income has declined-more signs of the impact of the recession and job losses.
The nation’s poverty rate in 2010 increased to 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This means that 46.2 million people now live in poverty, up from 43.6 million the year before and the largest number in the 52 years for which estimates have been published.
These numbers aren't just data points for the industry. They represent a growing number of families in need of safe and decent affordable housing.
The family poverty rate and the number of families living in poverty increased from 8.8 million in 2009 to 9.2 million in 2010. And for 2010, the official poverty level for a family of four, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget, was $22,314.
Real median household income in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median. According to the Census Bureau, real median income has declined a total of 6.4 percent since 2007, the year before this most recent recession.
Another interesting statistic in yesterday’s Census release was that the number of doubled-up households also was on the rise. Doubled-up households-defined as households that include at least one additional adult who is 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse, or cohabitating partner of the householder-had increased by 2 million to 21.8 million in spring 2011 from the 19.7 doubled-up households in pre-recession spring 2007. Also in spring 2011, 5.9 million adults between the ages of 25 and 34 resided in their parents’ homes, compared with 4.7 million prior to the recession.
Creating jobs is definitely key to turning these numbers around. But these rising stats also underscore the need for the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Let’s hope the federal government takes that into consideration when debating the 2012 Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as other deficit cuts.