• The percentage of cost-burdened renters in Washington, D.C. was 48 percent in 2007, and was 49 percent in 2014
  • More DC renters are cost-burden than those in San Francisco, but not New York or Boston
  • DC real estate agents may have a good shot at swaying renters into buying

With the U.S. homeownership rate at its lowest since 1967, the U.S. renter population is the largest it has ever been, and now stands at 43 million households. With rents increasing much faster than incomes, however, renters in cities across the U.S. increasingly struggle with housing affordability. Apartment List recently analyzed Census data from 2007 to 2014 to understand which cities and states have the most cost-burdened renters (spending more than 30 percent of their income in rent).

Cost-burdened renters in DC, 2007-2014

As seen from the chart above, the share of cost-burdened renters in Washington, D.C. was 48 percent in 2007. It rose to a high of 51 percent in 2010, before falling to 49 percent in 2014. This is higher than San Francisco (43 percent), but lower than Boston (52 percent), New York City (55 percent), and Los Angeles (62 percent).

Median rents and renter incomes in DC, 2007-2014

Diving deeper into the data, we see that D.C. rents have increased by 46 percent from 2007-2014 – ouch! This increase is one of the largest in our study. Renter incomes in D.C. have increased rapidly as well, but not enough to keep up — they only increased by 16 percent during the same time period. The share of cost-burdened renters is still lower than the national (52 percent ) average, but the data suggest that D.C. renters are paying quite a bit more in rent than pre-recession levels.


Andrew has lived in 13 different apartments in the past six years. He currently is a Manager of Growth Strategy at Apartment List, leading research on rental market trends and renter satisfaction. His interests include cycling, cooking and tennis.

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