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DAT102x: Predicting County-Level Rents
Hosted By Microsoft


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End date: Dec. 26, 2019, 11:59 p.m. UTC

Housing costs and income inequality

Over the past five decades, housing costs have risen faster than incomes, low-cost housing has been disappearing from the market, and racial disparities in homeownership rates have deepened.

A recent study by the economists at Apartment Lab explains:

Housing markets are exacerbating the gap between the rich and poor...As incomes are growing fastest at the top of the income distribution, housing costs are doing the opposite. Americans in the bottom ten percent of the income distribution have experienced the most rapid growth in housing costs over the past ten years. Moving up the income ladder, the richer a household gets the less it has seen rents and mortgage payments spike. At the top, we find that the top quartile of income earners has actually seen their housing costs fall in the last decade.

Housing markets place disproportionate financial stress on low-income households, who tend to face similar housing costs as middle-income Americans, despite lower paychecks.

Those in the lowest quartile make only 27% as much as the median household, but they still need to pay 79% of what the median household does each month to housing. America’s poor earn just a fraction of the median family’s income, but their housing costs are not too different.

Today, most poor renting families spend at least half of their income on housing costs, according to the Eviction Lab.

Housing issues are intertwined with many other social problems, including poverty, educational disparities, and health care. Digging into underlying patterns in housing costs can be an important first step toward greater visibility and better policies.

In previous capstone challenges, we looked at how poverty, evictions, and heart health are distributed across US counties. Now, we are challenging you to consider how poverty, income, health, ethnicity, and other sociodemographic factors are related to rent costs, and to use your skills to build a model for predicting median gross rent values in counties across the United States.

Competition tile photo by Timothy Vollmer