As housing costs rise, many people are falling behind on other bills

Personal Finance

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Financial stress visits renters more than homeowners.

That’s the main takeaway from a new report by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

Rental costs are rising much faster than renters’ salaries. Between 1960 and 2016, the median income for a renter grew by just 5 percent. During the same period, the median rent ballooned by more than 60 percent, according to The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. (Both figures account for inflation.)

To be sure, buying a house has also become harder for many Americans — to do so now costs four times the median household income. The homeownership rate fell to 63 percent in 2016 – the lowest rate in half a century.

“Still, renters seem to be worse off,” said Corianne Scally, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute and a co-author of the study.

The Urban Institute’s findings come out of its 2017 well-being and basic needs survey, which received responses from 7,500 people ages 18 to 64.

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