WASHINGTON — More than 5 million low-income American households paid excessive rent or lived in substandard conditions in 2003, nearly unchanged from the mid-1990s, a government report indicated Tuesday.
The Housing and Urban Development Department, in a report to Congress, said 5.18 million low-income households -- or 4.89% of U.S. families -- experienced critical housing needs because of low incomes, high rent or substandard conditions, compared with 5.2 million in 1995.
A substantial proportion of households with such "worst case" needs have earnings suggesting a household member is employed full-time, according to the report.
"While the number of American households that experience these greatest needs remains fairly constant, it's still too high," said Darlene Williams, assistant secretary for policy development and research at the department.
"There are some households who continue paying a disproportionate amount on rent or who live in conditions nobody would want to call home," Williams said.
Households with "worst case needs" are unassisted renters who have incomes below 50% of their area's median income and who pay more than half their income on housing or live in severely substandard conditions.
Of the households with worst case needs, 2.76 million were white, 1.04 million were black and 1.04 million were Hispanic.