About 10.5 million American households, or roughly 8.9 percent, reported that in the past month their access to adequate food was limited by a lack of money and other resources, according to new 2015 American Housing Survey statistics released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau.
For the first time in its 42-year history, the American Housing Survey included questions on food security status, which allowed HUD to assign households a "food security status" score. Using these categories, about 10.5 million occupied households were classified as having "low" or "very low" food security, which is commonly known as being "food insecure."
The survey also looked at homeownership, race and having a disability in relation to food security. Results showed that 4.9 percent of homeowners and 15.5 percent of renters were food insecure, meaning they had "low" or "very low" food security.
"For over 40 years, the American Housing Survey has been America's premier source of statistics on housing costs and quality," Katherine O' Regan said, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research. "Working closely with experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we added food insecurity to this survey to better understand the balance many lower income households face between the cost and quality of their housing and putting food on the table."
The Department of Housing and Urban Development in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture included the questions to determine whether the dietary quality or food consumption of household members was reduced or normal eating patterns were disrupted because the household lacked money for food any time during the last month. One adult respondent per household was asked questions about experiences and behaviors that indicate food insecurity, such as being unable to afford balanced meals, cutting the size of meals because of too little money for food, or being hungry because of too little money for food.
The American Housing Survey data is collected every other year by the Census Bureau and is the most comprehensive housing survey in the United States. It covers topics such as housing characteristics, housing costs, home improvements and neighborhood characteristics.
In addition to food insecurity, the 2015 American Housing Survey includes three other new topics: the health and safety of homes, the use of housing counseling, and the importance of arts and culture. In addition to these topics, new questions explore the opinions of Americans on petty and major crime, satisfaction with schools, satisfaction with public transportation and risk for flooding or disasters.
Results showed that 16.9 percent of black householders, 19.5 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native householders, and 21.4 percent of Pacific Islander householders were food insecure, all significantly higher than that of white householders, at 7.5 percent.
About 16.6 percent of households with a person with a disability were food insecure, reporting "low" or "very low" food security, as opposed to 6.9 percent of households without a person with a disability.
In addition to the new survey topics, the American Housing Survey covers topics such as physical housing characteristics and financial characteristics. Below are highlights from the 2015 national and metropolitan statistical area level findings among the 118,290,000 occupied units. More information on 25 selected metropolitan areas will be available later this year.