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U-M report: More than half of renters in Michigan paying too much for housing

Apartment for rent sign
Aaron Kohr
Adobe Stock
More than half of renters in Michigan are spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

Half of renters in Michigan paid more than 30% of their income on housing in 2022, according to a University of Michigan and Michigan State Housing Development Authority report.

More than 25% of renters paid more than half their income on housing in 2022.

The federal government considers it a housing "overburden," when more than 30% of a household's income is being spent on rent or a mortgage. For lower income people especially, the housing overburden makes it very difficult to pay for other necessities like utilities, food, and transportation.

Study co-author Melika Belhaj is Program Manager for the U of M School of Public Health's Housing Solutions for Health Equity (HSHE). She said one big issue is wages in Michigan are not keeping up with housing costs.

"When they're not growing in tandem with each other, that overburden will grow and that's why we have that startling number of half of our residents experiencing overburden," Belhaj said.

The report also noted a huge race-based homeownership gap. Nearly 80% of white households were homeowners in 2022, but only 45% of Black households were homeowners.

Belhaj said that gap is bigger than the national average, and it reflects the legacy of racial redlining and housing segregation in Michigan.

"The ability to accumulate generational wealth being stifled through these policies has also made it more difficult for people to put a down payment on a home [today]," she said.

There were a few positive trends in the report. One was a reduction in the number of people who lost their homes to tax foreclosure. In 2021, there were 7,159 tax foreclosures in the state, down 81% from 2015 at the height of the tax foreclosure crisis.

But eviction filings increased by 38% between 2021 and 2022 after a significant drop in filings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2022, 32,589 individuals were identified as experiencing homelessness, an increase of 8% from the year before.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.