Rent Burden

Percentage of households where ≥30% of income is spent on rent

American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau.
Dashboard-City Average

Why do we measure rent buden?

Housing quality and housing affordability can influence health and well-being.1,2Research has shown that unaffordable housing can put households at risk forpoor physical and mental health. For example, households spending more than 30% of their income on rent have fewer resources for health care, utilities, healthy food, and transportation.1,3 Rent burden and its associated stress are also linked with poor mental health, particularly anxiety and depression.3,4

Extreme rental costs have a disproportionate impact on some areas of the U.S. and on certain populations. People living on the east and west coasts and in urban areas are known to face greater rent burdens, although excessive rental costs are concerns in rural as well as suburban areas.5,6 Measuring rent burden can also inform interventions aimed at increasing racial equity. Families living with low incomes are more likely to experience rent burden, and Black and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately impacted.5,6,7 Black and Hispanic Americans are also more likely to rent (as opposed to owning homes) as compared to White Americans.7 

How do we measure rent burden?

This metric includes the percent of households spending 30% or more of their income on rent.

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• Rent burden captures the combined impact of income and housing costs in one metric.

• Monitoring rent burden helps identify areas with rental housing affordability problems, and changes in affordability over time.      

• Rent burden does not take into account other expenses such as debt or medical emergencies. It also does not capture non-renters (i.e. homeowners or unhoused populations).

• This metric does not separate households that are severely burdened by rent—those who spend 50% or more of their household income on rent.

• Rent burden does not capture information on the quality of housing. Some housing is affordable but of poor quality.


Rent burden is calculated by the following formula:

rent burden calc

For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from American Community Survey five-year estimate data using the table DP04. Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions

Years of Collection

Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2022, 5 year estimate.


  1. Maqbool N, Ault M, Viveiros J. The impacts of affordable housing on health: A research summary. Center for Housing Policy; 2015.

  2. Rauh VA, Landrigan PJ, Claudio L. Housing and health: intersection of poverty and environmental exposures. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2008;1136:276-288.

  3. Bentley R, Baker E, Mason K, Subramanian SV, Kavanagh AM. Association between housing affordability and mental health: a longitudinal analysis of a nationally representative household survey in Australia. Am J Epidemiol. 2011;174(7):753-760.

  4. Downing J. The health effects of the foreclosure crisis and unaffordable housing: A systematic review and explanation of evidence. Soc Sci Med. 2016;162:88-96.

  5. Rental Burdens: Rethinking Affordability Measures. HUD PD&R Edge Online Magazine. Pulbished September 22, 2014. Accessed November 7, 2022.

  6. Larrimore, J, Schuetz, J. Assessing the Severity of Rent Burden on Low -Income Familes. FEDS Notes.,as%20more%20than%2050%20percent. Published December 22, 2017. Accessed November 7, 2022.

  7. Schaeffer, K. Key facts about housing affordability in the U.S. Pew Research Center.,from%20the%20U.S.%20Census%20Bureau. Published March 23, 2022. Accessed November 7, 2022.

Last updated: December 14, 2022