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Housing issues affect everyone in Connecticut, from those who are searching for a safe place to live, to those who may find it increasingly difficult to afford a place they already call home.WNPR is covering Connecticut's housing and homelessness issues in a series that examines how residents are handling the challenges they face. We look at the trends that matter most right now, and tell stories that help bring the issues to light.

Most Renters Are Now Over 40, and Housing Supply Has Not Kept Up in Connecticut

As renters age, demand for rental properties has grown. Supply has not kept up in Connecticut.

Just over half of renters in the U.S. are older than 40, a new study released on Wednesday found. The change comes in the wake of volatile housing issues in the last several years.

A bust and then a surge in foreclosures led to the fundamental shift in the makeup of renters, the report said. Nearly 51 percent of renters are over the age of 40.

The report, from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, also found affordability problems are mounting as rents rise faster than wages, while apartment construction increasingly targets tenants with six-figure incomes. And demand for rentals has outpaced supply and caused prices to rise.

A decade ago when the housing bubble peaked in 2005, 47 percent of renters -- or 16.4 million households -- were older than 40 in the U.S.

Connecticut reflects some of the same national trends. Demand for rental properties has been growing, but supply has not kept up, and the state's population is aging.

The Connecticut Commission on Aging  found that a third of the state's residents are older than 50. An interactive map shows that by 2025, older adults will make up a fifth of every town’s population.

The Harvard study found the largest increase in renters in the U.S. was a 4.3 million jump in the number of renters in their 50s and 60s. 

The report found growing affordability problems across the U.S. and the number of cost-burdened renters (renters paying more than 30 percent of income for housing) rising. 

Credit Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University / jchs.harvard.edu
The number of people living in rental housing has grown to record numbers in the U.S., and who is renting is broad-based.

Credit Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University / jchs.harvard.edu
Rental property vacancy rates are at a 30-year low in the U.S., while rents are increasing and construction is not keeping up with the demand.

In Connecticut, 23.2 percent of renters last year were "moderately burdened," and 28.5 percent were "severely burdened."

The study includes an interactive map of the U.S. It divides the state into five areas. For example, among renter households in the Hartford metropolitan area, the share of households with cost burdens is 49.3 percent. Those with "severe" cost burdens is 28.1 percent.

Data from earlier this year showed states' average rental prices across the country, with Connecticut among the most costly.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report found that Connecticut is home to the eighth-priciest rental market in the nation.

Stephanie Riefe is an intern at WNPR. Heather Brandon contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.

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