The demand for affordable rental properties has long outstripped the supply, but the gap has widened in recent years as incomes have stagnated, homeownership rates have fallen and rents have soared in many markets.

Adults at all income levels are affected — even well-paid millennials with college degrees are spending an increasingly higher percentage of their take-home pay on rent — but those at the lowest end of the income spectrum are struggling the most. For every 100 households with incomes at or below 30% of area median income, there are only 28 affordable units available, down from 33 in 2007 and 37 in 2000, according to the Urban Institute. The situation has gotten so out of whack that there's not a single county in the entire country where the supply of affordable rental properties meets the demand, says Erika Poethig, the institute's director of urban policy initiatives.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.