U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau Release New American Housing Survey

2017 AHS provides insight on disaster preparedness, housing and neighborhoods

Washington, DC - - (September 6, 2018) - - Renters are three times more likely to need financial assistance to evacuate during a major disaster than those who own their own homes. That’s according to the new 2017 American Housing Survey released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The new survey finds that of the nearly 44 million American renter households, approximately 39 percent indicated they do not have access to $2,000 to cover evacuation expenses. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of 77.3 million owner households reported they did not have access to $2,000 to pay for their family’s evacuation.

Each year, HUD and the Census Bureau produce the American Housing Survey (AHS), the most comprehensive analysis of the nation’s housing inventory. The AHS covers a variety of “core” housing topics, including the composition and quality of the nation's housing inventory, mortgages and other housing costs, and neighborhood conditions.

For the second time in five years, HUD and FEMA teamed up to add questions related to households’ disaster preparedness. The questions cover several aspects of disaster preparedness, including whether households need help evacuating pets—more than 13 million households said “yes.” When households were asked to name their first source of emergency information during a disaster, a nearly equal number of households said “television” (37.9 million) and “internet” (37.4 million).

“For nearly 45 years, the American Housing Survey has been America’s premier source of data on housing costs and quality," said HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude. “In collaboration with FEMA, we have added disaster preparedness questions to this survey to better understand the challenges that households face as they prepare for and respond to disasters.”

September is National Preparedness Month, an opportunity to remind Americans to prepare their families for when disaster strikes. This National Preparedness Month will focus on planning, with the central theme: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.

“We welcome our partnership with HUD and this new data from the American Housing Survey. This report underscores the need to prepare for the hazards we may face at any time,” said FEMA’s Deputy Administrator for Resilience, Dr. Daniel Kaniewski. “During National Preparedness Month, FEMA is encouraging individuals, families, and communities to start preparing. People with an emergency plan in place, a little emergency savings in the bank, and the right insurance coverage will bounce back much quicker following a disaster.”

The 2017 American Housing Survey includes questions that allow researchers to track changes in key disaster preparedness measures compared to 2013. For example, approximately 4.4 million more households indicated they had an emergency evacuation kit in 2017 compared to 2013.

Other national findings among the 121.2 million occupied housing units surveyed include:

Disaster Preparedness
  • About 81.3 percent of households report they have enough non-perishable food for at least three days, although only 58.6 percent report they have at least three gallons or 24 bottles of water per person.
  • Of the 88.0 million households with 2-or-more persons, 36.5 percent reported they have an agreed-upon meeting location in the event of an evacuation and 26.4 percent reported they have a communication plan if cell service is disrupted.
  • About 80.7 percent of all households reported they would have access to vital financial information in the event of a disaster.
  • More than 77.3 million households indicated that if they were evacuated for two or more weeks, the most likely place they would stay would be with relatives or friends. About 27.9 million households said the most likely places they would stay is a hotel or motel.

Housing Quality
  • More than 15 million households, or 12.6 percent of all households, reported seeing signs of cockroaches in their home in the last 12 months. A much larger share of renters (17.9 percent) than owners (9.6 percent) reported seeing cockroaches.
  • About 3.8 million households, or 3.1 percent of all households, reported signs of mold in their home in the last 12 months. Renters (4.7 percent) are more than twice as likely as owners (2.2 percent) to report signs of mold.

Housing Costs
  • More than half (50.8 percent) of renter households spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs.
  • The median rent was $850 per month while the median mortgage cost was $900.
  • The median total cost of utilities was $202. The median cost for electricity was $106 per month and the median cost of water was $50 per month.

Owner Home Improvement
  • In a typical year, owners spent a median of $500 on routine maintenance or regular maintenance activities necessary for the preventive care of the structure, property and equipment. Such activities included painting, fixing leaks, repairing fences, cleaning gutters and removing dangerous trees.
  • There were 43.8 million households that performed 113 million home improvement projects, other than routine maintenance, in the last two years, spending more than $449.4 billion, with a median of $1,350 per job.
  • Of the owner-occupied units completing home improvement projects, about 30.8 percent did at least one project for energy efficiency purposes; 6.7 percent did at least one project to improve accessibility for an elderly person or a person with a disability, and 3.8 percent did at least one project to prepare the home for sale.

Neighborhood Characteristics
  • About 16.4 percent of households report their neighborhood has a lot of petty crime. Renters (23.5 percent) were almost twice as likely as owners (12.3 percent) to report their neighborhood has a lot of petty crime.
  • About 7.6 percent of households report their neighborhood is at high risk for flood or other disasters.
  • Of the 64.1 million occupied housing units in subdivisions (including apartments and groups of mobile homes), 14.4 percent are located in secured communities with walls or fences, comprising 7.6 percent of all occupied units.

Today’s release includes summary tables and microdata for the nation and for the 15 largest metropolitan areas:
  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  4. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  5. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
  6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  7. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
  9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  11. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  12. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  13. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  14. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
  15. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Later this year, HUD and Census will release data for an additional 10 large metropolitan areas and nine states, as well as data on topics such as evictions, difficulty paying rent, mortgages, and utility bills, and commuting costs.

Courtesy: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; U.S. Census Bureau