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Affordable housing disappearing

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While about 100,000 affordable rental housing units are built in the U.S. each year, twice as many rental units are demolished, a new study says.

With rents going up faster than incomes, that leaves the nation’s low- and middle-income renters in a bind, says a new report from the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The study, “America’s Rental Housing: Homes for a Diverse Nation,” was sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

From 1994 to 2004, median rent grew to $974 from $734, the study says, while median monthly income for those who rent rose only slightly, to $2,348 from $2,272.

Currently, about seven in 10 of the nation’s 7 million lowest-income renters spend more than half of their income on housing.

To increase the supply of affordable housing, the report recommends focusing not only on new construction, but on preservation and rehabilitation of existing units.

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