HUD reports rise in 'worst-case' housing needs

Unemployment, shrinking income major factors for distress

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Unemployment, the housing crisis and high rents have contributed to a rising number of households with "worst-case" housing needs, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in a report to Congress.

Residents in an estimated 7.1 million households in 2009 were very-low-income renters who did not receive any housing assistance and paid more than half of their income toward rent and/or lived in severely inadequate conditions — up 20 percent from 2007 and up 42 percent from 2001, according to the HUD report, released this week.

"High rents in proportion to renter incomes are an increasingly dominant cause of worst-case needs," the report concluded.