Exploring mismatch in within-metropolitan affordable housing in the United States

Seungbeom Kang, Jae Sik Jeon, Whitney Airgood-Obrycki

Despite numerous studies and measures that quantify the extent of the shortage in affordable housing for low-income renter households, few studies address potential neighbourhood-level mismatch between affordable housing supply and demand. To fill this research gap, this study investigates whether neighbourhood-level imbalance exists between the number of low-income renters and the number of rental units that are affordable and available to them within the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the USA. It also explores under which metropolitan-level conditions, such an imbalance (measured using the dissimilarity index between low-income renters and rental units affordable to them) is likely to be most severe. The study found that certain neighbourhoods within each metropolitan area contain rental unit surpluses affordable to a particular low-income group and such units substantially decline as the study considers the availability of these affordable stocks. Multivariate analyses reveal that certain metropolitan-level contexts contribute to the imbalance in affordable rental units across low-income groups. These findings imply that various efforts, such as reducing the mismatch between low-wage jobs and workers, providing affordable housing in suburban areas or relaxing local regulatory environments for residential development, may be effective in improving housing affordability imbalance across low-income groups at the local level.