The economic recovery has done nothing to ease the affordable housing crisis.

The housing market has finally turned the corner, but the affordability gap continues to widen each year, according to The State of the Nation’s Housing report released by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The gap is most acute among extremely low-income renters, those earning no more than 30 percent of the area median income.

“Since 2007, the gap has more than doubled, with the number of extremely low-income renters up by 2.5 million and the number of units they could afford down by 135,000,” says the report.

In 2011, there were 12.1 million extremely low-income renters and just 6.8 million units with rents they could afford at 30 percent of their income, bringing the shortage to 5.3 million units.

Of the 6.8 million units that are affordable to extremely low-income renters, more than a third were occupied by households with higher incomes.

Sheila Crowley, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, echoed the point that it’s the poorest who are falling the most behind.

The most serious housing problems are for those earning less than 30 percent, she said this week at the Housing Credit Connect conference held by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

“It’s where the housing need is growing the most,” she said.

The annual report cites several other troubling trends, including:

  • 42.3 million households (37 percent of the total) shelled out more than 30 percent of their pretax income for housing in 2011, while 20.6 million households paid more than half of their incomes for housing. The number paying more than half of their incomes for housing rose by 6.7 million from 2001 to 2011, an increase of 49 percent;
  • Each year over the next decade contracts on approximately 3,400 federally assisted properties, including 200,000 units, will come up for renewal; and
  • The supply of public housing is shrinking at a rate of 10,000 units per year.