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Accessibility to Affordable Living Options

Severe Rental Burden

Severe rental burden, for the purposes of this map, is defined as the percentage of the population spending over 50% of their income on rent. This map stratifies the Boston population according to their annual household income. By clicking on the layer selector to the left, you can explore how the rental burden impacts different income groups. The map is showed on block group level. A block group is the smallest geographical unit for which the census bureau publishes sample data, and generally contains between 600 and 3,000 people. 

According to the National Low Income Housing Council's 2017 report, there are 46 units of affordable housing available per every 100 low income renter households in the Boston metro area. Out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country, Boston ranked the highest in availability of affordable housing, meaning 46 units available per 100 rental households is the highest availability of any large metropolitan area in the United States. While Boston is proud to lead the country in availability of affordable housing, having more than 50% of households in our community unable to access affordable housing is not sufficient, and our city continues to work to increase accessibility. 


How does the cost of rental housing affect families?

According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, more than one third of US households live in rental housing. Boston is a high-cost metro, and increasing rents means families have less money to spend on food and other necessities. Learning about affordable housing options in Boston from the City of Boston official site:


Where to look for affordable housing?

We recommend to look at MetroList 

From, there, you can find a search tool such as:


Additional resources

o  Renew Boston provides home visits to support residents in lowering utility bills and reducing carbon emissions.

o  ABCD can provide eligible residents with fuel assistance and weatherization.

o Check out these tips from the city of Boston on lowering the cost of your energy bill.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

Reference: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, America’s Rental Housing 2017,

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