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Affordability Crisis in the Housing Market: Rent Burden in Memphis, Tennessee

Authors: Mikhail Samarin*, University of Tennessee
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: rent burden, housing, affordability
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Rent burden is a situation when a tenant is faced to spend more than one-third of his/her income towards housing costs. The phenomenon is related to housing affordability crises within the U.S. and implies market failures with regard to the rental segment of housing markets. This study focuses on Shelby County, Tennessee since housing affordability problems can be found not only in the least affordable cities (hot real estate markets), but also in less sought after cities (cool markets). I analyze rent burden at the micro-geographic scale of census tracts. By using mapping tools, I reveal some spatial dissimilarities. Specifically, I find differences between the tracts inside the city of Memphis and its environs within Shelby County. Moreover, by employing correlation and spatial regression analyses, I identify the socioeconomic variables that are associated with rent burden. Surprisingly, the variable of race is of less importance which may be due to the predominantly African American population in the county. At the same time, education- and automobile ownership-related variables are highly and negatively associated with rent burden.

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