Nearly 5% of U.S. homes are either moderately inadequate or severely inadequate for living, according to the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s American Housing Survey. All told, that amounts to approximately 6 million moderately or severely inadequate homes sheltering an estimated 15.5 million people (assuming 2.6 people per household, the most recent Census estimate). (See if any of the cities on the list are also among the cities with the strongest economies in 2022.)
Among the nation’s largest cities, the share of housing units deemed by HUD to be inadequate ranges from 2.3% to 6.5%, in each case representing thousands of houses and apartments.
To determine the cities with the most homes people shouldn’t live in, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2019 American Housing Survey, which includes estimates on the percentage of moderately or severely inadequate housing units in 22 metropolitan areas. These metropolitan areas represent approximately 121 million people, or 37% of the U.S. population. All but one of the 15 largest metropolitan areas in the country — Miami — are represented on the list.
HUD defines housing units as moderately or severely inadequate if they meet a variety of conditions, including the lack of hot water, lack of electricity, lack of proper heating due to malfunctioning heating equipment, and a variety of maintenance issues such as cracks, broken windows, leaks, and signs of rat infestations. Though cockroach infestation and mold are not included in the HUD criteria for inadequate living conditions, we included the information in our report.
Even in metropolitan areas with fewer inadequate homes, a high percentage of homes have conditions that may not be defined as unlivable according to HUD’s definitions, but are still far from desirable. For example, in the Denver metropolitan area, which has the smallest share of inadequate units among the 22 cities on this list, 4.6% of housing units, or more than 50,000 housing units, had reported stoppage of hot and cold piped water in the three months prior to the survey being conducted.
In Detroit, where a relatively low 3.3% of housing units were considered moderately or severely inadequate, close to 1 in 10 homes had reported at least 24 hours of being uncomfortably cold the previous winter due to broken heating equipment. (Looking to move? Consider these best cities to move to.)
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