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Half Of Chicago Tenants Can't Afford Their Rent

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 2, 2015 8:00PM

If you're like half of Chicago's renters, your rent is at least 30 percent of your income—and way above what is considered "affordable" under federal guidelines.

According to a Chicago Reporter analysis of census data, the percentage of renters in the city who are paying too much in rent jumped to 53.7 percent in 2013 from 37.9 percent in 2000.

With median rent in Chicago, including utilities, at about $950 when documented in 2013, and more than a quarter of Chicago's households on the Chicago Housing Authority's affordable housing wait list, the need for more affordable housing in the city seems more pressing than ever.

To be able to afford the median rent under the federal affordable housing guidelines, a household would need to bring in at least $38,000 a year. Instead, the data shows that people who make significantly less than that are putting more of their paychecks toward rent, meaning they have less left over to put toward other commons expenses like buying food, paying off debt or contributing to savings.

City Hall has been making strides toward improving Chicago's affordable housing offerings. The City Council in March approving an ordinance that would require developers of new housing projects to set aside more units as affordable housing or put more of their funds toward the city's affordable housing fund. But some major developers have warned that this effort could backfire and put a chill on housing development once it takes effect next year.