Renters face high costs, few options

Keychain shaped like a house with 2 keys

The home mortgage crisis has received far more notice, but experts say the ranks of renters who can't find affordable homes are growing faster than the ranks of defaulting homeowners.

The Center for Housing Policy reports that the number of working-family renters paying more than half their income for housing has soared from 1 million to 2.1 million since 1997. Overall, advocacy groups say there are 9 million low-income renter households and only 6.2 million units they can reasonably afford.

"These people spend huge portions of their income on their housing," said Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "They don't do things that we all would like to do -- save money to buy a house, or for college or retirement. It's a very day-to-day existence."

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