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Narrative Overview

Housing Statistics


Why does it matter?

Understanding occupancy rates can inform us about housing needs in our area. A greater percentage of household units were occupied by an owner than a renter. However, as the percentage of renter-occupied units declines, so does the rent-burdened households. This could be attributed to more individuals purchasing real estate, as opposed to renting it—or it could be that income levels rose enough to outweigh the rental burden. That being said, large portions of households still suffer from some form of rent-burden, which makes it difficult to live comfortably.

Where are we now?

It is alarming how many residents of Pensacola live in a rent-burdened household. Rent-burdened households made up over 50 percent of all households in 2015, luckily declining to about 48 percent by 2019. While the percentage of rent-burdened households has declined, this still represents a substantial number of households that worry about making ends meet on a monthly basis. A decline in the households with a rent burden is a positive change for low-income families, however, the falling housing affordability index (HAI) could offset this positive shift.

As long as the number is over 100, median-income families will have enough money to afford a typical home. However, HAI declined from 210 in 2015 to 159 in 2018 – meaning median-income families went from having 110 percent higher incomes than the qualifying value in 2015, to just 59 percent over the qualifying income in 2018.

In general, there are higher percentages of owner-occupied housing units (OOHU) than renter-occupied housing units (ROHU). While the percentage of OOHU increased from 2015 to 2019, the percentage of ROHU declined.

How do we measure it?

Owner-occupied-housing-units captures the percentage of housing units occupied by the owner of the home. Whereas renter-occupied-housing-units measures the percent of housing units occupied by renters. Rent-burdened households are typically defined as the households that spend more than 30 percent of their pre-tax income on rent.

The housing affordability index is a national index that has a value of 100 when the median-income family has sufficient income to purchase a median-priced existing home. The statistic is an annual measure that releases a report every 4 years at the Metropolitan Statistical Level.

  • Housing affordability index: “Housing Affordability,” National Association of Realtors, 2015-2018, 2020, Datasheet retrieved from
  • Occupied housing units: “ACS Table S2502,” U.S. Census Bureau, 2015-2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. 2020, Datasheet] retrieved from
  • Rent burdened households: “ACS Table DP04,” U.S. Census Bureau, 2015-2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2020, Datasheet retrieved from

What call to action is linked to this indicator?

Affordable, accessible housing is a priority for many people. Short-term solutions to help rent-burdened households could include rent subsidies and rent control. However, these actions may have unintended consequences and could increase housing costs longer term. Long-term solutions rely upon expanding the supply of housing through new development.

Policymakers can do this through liberalizing zoning laws, implementing tax incentives for new housing development, and implementing a land value tax on the value of unimproved land. Expanding housing could also increase the share of owner-occupied housing as home ownership becomes more affordable due to greater supply.