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Real estate rental prices surpass income growth

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About 70 percent of the 7 million lowest-income renters in the country pay more than half of their income for housing, according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. The median asking rent increased 32.7 percent in a decade, from $734 in 1994 to $974 in 2004. Meanwhile, monthly renter income grew about 3.3 percent in that time, from $2,272 a month in 1994 to $2,348 a month in 2004, according to the study, "America's Rental Housing: Homes for a Diverse Nation." And the stock of rental units has been in decline. The nation is losing approximately 200,000 rental housing units each year because of demolition, the Harvard center reported. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program and other programs supply about 100,000 new units of affordable rental housing each year, the center also reported, but that is not enough to compensate for the overall decline. "We are taking one step forward and two steps back as gentrification in some neighborhoods and conti...