CHICAGO — The majority of residents in Chicago are now renters, a flip from 2006 that has led to fewer vacancies and rents growing faster than inflation, a new study says.
The number of renters in Chicago grew to 1.42 million in 2013, up from 1.27 million in 2006, says the report. Some 52.3 percent of Chicago households now live in rental units, up from 46.3 percent in 2006.
The number of units available for rent grew by 10 percent between 2006 and 2013, but less than demand, says the study by New York University and Capital One.
The result: new renters are moving into previously vacant properties or renters are forming larger households. Typical in the latter case would be adults moving back in with their parents or finding roomates instead of looking for a studio or one-bedroom unit.
"As vacant rental units become scarcer, renters have a harder time finding an affordable, available unit. But, besides making apartment searches more unpleasant and and stressful, having more people trying to rent fewer available units often has another result: higher rents," according to the report "Renting in America's Largest Cities."
The researchers, comparing Chicago to 11 other major cities, described rents here as "relatively inexpensive." It said rents are about 4 percent higher in 2013 than in 2006 using inflation-adjusted dollars. However, households have adjusted incomes higher than the increases.
Still, 51 percent of Chicago renters were classifed as "rent burdened," paying 30 percent or more of their income for rent and utilities. Among the lowest-income renters, more than three in four households were "severely rent burdened" or spending over 50 percent of their income on rent and utilities.
According to an Associated Press analysis of the report, the rise of renting across the country in the nation's largest cities can be traced to the 2008 mortgage and financial crisis, which left some unable or reluctant to own homes.
Other factors may include baby boom generation downsizing and selling their homes and young people burdened by hefty college debt making it difficult for them to save for a down payment on their own home.
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