Research and News Roundup:
March 2024

Mary Ann Priester

Senior Management Analyst
Mecklenburg County Community Support Services

The Research and News Roundup is a monthly blog series that features a curated list of recent news and research related to housing instability, homelessness, and affordable housing. Together, these topics provide insights about the full housing continuum and provide community stakeholders with information about emergent research, promising practices, and innovative solutions related to housing and homelessness.

This month’s Research and News Roundup features the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s assessment of rental housing availability both locally and nationally, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies 2024 America Rental Housing report which provides analysis and insights into the state of the rental housing market in the United States, and findings from the Los Angeles County Women’s Needs Assessment.


National Low Income Housing Coalition Releases 2024 The Gap Report

Annually, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) assesses rental housing availability for extremely low-income households and other income brackets. Utilizing American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (ACS PUMS) data, The Gap report details affordable housing supply and cost burdens nationally, statewide, and in metropolitan areas. Additionally, it analyzes demographics, disability, work status, and other traits of extremely low-income households impacted by the shortage of affordable rental homes. The report highlights the ongoing shortage of affordable rental housing in the United States and reveals a national shortage of 7.3 million units for extremely low-income renters. This shortage disproportionately impacts Black, Latino, and Indigenous households, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. It continues to worsen due to rising rent prices and economic challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. The report also indicates that the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has a 45,765 deficit of affordable and available rental units at or below 30% Area Median Income (AMI) and a 58,064 deficit for households at or below 50% AMI. Seventy-five percent of households at or below 30% AMI in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia MSA are severely cost-burdened paying 50% or more of their household income on housing costs.


Supporting Women of Color Experiencing Homelessness

Recently released research from the Urban Institute examines findings from the Los Angeles County Women’s Needs Assessment, the largest study to date on the needs of women experiencing homelessness. The study found that most women experiencing homelessness in LA County are women of color who are typically living unsheltered. They experience episodic homelessness that lasts on average two and a half to three years and they experience high rates of trauma and victimization. The women reported wanting safe, affordable, and private housing but indicated a lack of case management services and affordable housing created challenges to exiting homelessness. While this study focused specifically on women in LA County the authors provide key recommendations that could be implemented in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to support the needs of women experiencing homelessness.


Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: America’s Rental Housing 2024

Harvard’s “America’s Rental Housing” report is an annual publication by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS). It provides comprehensive analysis and insights into the state of the rental housing market in the United States. The report covers various aspects of rental housing, including affordability, availability, market trends, policy implications, and solutions to address housing challenges. The 2024 report indicates that while the rental market is slowing down, evictions and homelessness rates are on the rise. The report highlights that rental costs have stabilized after significant increases in 2021 and 2022. Despite this stabilization, half of all renters still face a cost burden, paying more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities. Additionally, the supply of lower-cost rental units has decreased, exacerbating the affordability issue. The impact of financial constraints such as high interest rates and insurance premiums, have resulted in reductions in multifamily housing construction which may worsen the shortage of affordable housing in the future. In addition, the report highlights that aging rental housing stock requires significant upgrades to improve habitability, energy efficiency, and resilience to climate change and the importance of federal assistance in adopting preventative climate policies to make these upgrades. The report provides policy recommendations and insights to inform strategies on how to improve rental housing affordability, accessibility, and quality.


Housing instability, homelessness, and affordable housing challenges are interconnected. Addressing Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s goal of reducing homelessness and ensuring access to safe, affordable housing for all residents requires data driven solutions across the housing continuum. The data presented in The Gap report underscores the urgent need for affordable housing solutions in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, while the American Rental Housing report provides a broader perspective on the rental housing market. The trends and policy recommendations outlined in the report can inform local strategies to improve rental housing affordability, accessibility, and quality in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Finally, Charlotte-Mecklenburg is demographically diverse and solutions to housing and homelessness challenges must address systemic issues while being person centered and acknowledging the unique needs and barriers of individual households. Understanding these challenges can inform person centered, targeted interventions and support services that address the specific needs of people experiencing homelessness and housing instability in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.