WI22-11: Housing for SSI Recipients: Expenditures, Quality, and Trends



More than half of single-person households receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are severely housing cost burdened, spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing, up from 35 percent in 1985, raising concerns over the housing conditions of this financially vulnerable population. This research project provides a descriptive analysis of the expenditures, quality, quantity, and insecurity of housing for SSI recipients between 1985 and 2019 using the American Housing Survey (AHS). Average SSI recipient monthly housing expenditures nearly doubled over this time, from $748 in 1985 to $1,279 in 2019. Some of the increased expenditures are caused by rising housing price levels, however increasing expenditures reflect substantial improvements to housing quality and quantity. Over this time, homes for SSI recipients have expanded with square footage increasing by 15 percent, total rooms increasing by 0.34 rooms, and lot size increasing by 10 percent. The occurrence of poor-quality housing conditions in SSI recipient homes, such as a sagging roof, broken appliances, presence of rodents, and peeling paint, has decreased dramatically. For single-person SSI households, these quality improvements translate into jumping from the 91st to the 59th percentile in the 1985 poor-quality housing distribution. The SSI housing quality improvements are broad-based: All but one of 30 poor housing quality indicators improved since 1985. In addition to improved housing conditions, a majority of housing insecurity indicators, such as overcrowding, recent moves, and living in unsafe neighborhoods, have declined for SSI households.


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WI22-11: Housing for SSI Recipients: Expenditures, Quality, and Trends

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