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About 40.6 million U.S. households spent more than 30% of their incomes on housing in 2021, an increase of 3.4 million from 2019, according to a new analysis from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University.

That means nearly one-third of all households in the country were cost burdened, including a record number of renters, 21.6 million, during the first full year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s about half of all renters across the country,” says research associate Alexander Hermann.

Much of the latest increase came from households that were severely burdened, those paying more than half of their incomes on housing. Fully, 20.3 million households were severely burdened in 2021, up 2.7 million from 2019, according to JCHS officials who dug into the most recent data from the American Community Survey.

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