If you earn less than $45,000 a year, you’re probably spending too much on rent

More than half of Denver households earning less than $45,000 are moderately to severely burdened by their rent payments. Burdened here is a technical term.

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Denver households earning more than $75,000 annually were 95 percent not burdened by rent costs.

If you or your household earn more than $45,000 in the Denver metro and rent your place, congratulations! You are much less likely to experience a rent burden, according to a new study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

But at least 57 percent of Denver households earning less than $45,000 are moderately to severely burdened by a rent payment.

Moderately burdened households pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent and severely burdened households pay more than 50 percent.

Denver income rent burdens

In Denver, 79.1 percent of households earning less than $15,000 face a severe rent burden.

So how much of Denver could be affected, based on these figures?

The latest American Community Survey estimates that 44 percent of Denver households earn less than $45,000 a year. In other words, nearly half of all households are at risk for some type of rent burden, based on available data.

Now, there’s a little bit of apples and oranges here, because you could own a home and make less than $45,000 a year, but it’s still striking.

Consider a neighborhood like Sun Valley to think about how this impacts the city.

In Sun Valley, 83 percent of households earn less than $45,000 and renters are 97 percent of the occupied housing units. The neighborhood has an average monthly rent of $790, according to Zumper, which would make it the lowest in the city. Maybe that means not many people are rent-burdened there.

But it’s surrounded by neighborhoods that Denver has decided are either susceptible to gentrification or in the midst of it. (Sun Valley itself has no such categorization because of missing housing data.) With gentrification can come rising rents and involuntary displacement.