|Change in percentage of county residents with severe cost burden for housing in 2010-17|
(Stateline map; click on the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version)
The problem is job-related: residents struggle to afford rent in rural areas that have lost high-paying jobs, like coal-dependent counties in Central Appalachia. And in areas with an improving economy, the influx of new workers drives rents up, making them unaffordable for the poorer, Henderson reports. The second scenario is seen in areas riding the boom in hydraulic fracturing or wind farms.
Another reason for the rural rental-housing crisis: "federal incentives to include affordable units have all but disappeared, and those remaining are quietly expiring, allowing landlords to freely charge more when demand rises, according to a 2018 study by the Housing Assistance Council, Henderson reports. "More than 2,000 rental properties left the federal program, mostly in the Midwest, between 2006 and 2016, according to the study, as landlords paid off the loans."