NEW YORK — Around 10 million American households — or one in every four families that rent their homes — could have to chose between paying rent, buying groceries or keeping current with bills, according to a report released Tuesday.
The number of households spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent and bills jumped by 2.6 million over the last decade, according to a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies report. Economists generally consider “affordable” rent to cost about 30 percent of a tenant’s income.
When housing costs hit certain levels, many Americans are forced to choose between rent and food. “In real terms, it means more people have less money to spend on household necessities such as food, health care, or savings,” Eric Belsky, director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, said in the report. Households which spend 50 percent or more of their income on rent also spend almost 40 percent less on food and over 50 percent less on health care than households with more affordable rent.