Housing and Community
More than half of all households in the lowest-income quintile spend 50 percent or more of their income on housing. In a city dominated by renters, the top quintile stands out as majority homeowners. At least two-thirds of those in the bottom 80 percent of households are renters, compared with just 37 percent in the top quintile. While small, this is a higher share than a decade ago, when just a quarter were renters, indicating that there are now more high-income renters living in Cambridge. At the same time, the second quintile has the highest share of households that own their home outright — nearly 17 percent — suggesting that while these households may be cash poor, they have some wealth in the form of assets.
Cambridge has a notoriously high cost of living, which is reflected in the level of housing cost burden among lower-income households. Virtually all renters and homeowners in the two lowest-income quintiles are considered housing cost–burdened in that they are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. This includes more than half of the households in the lowest-income quintile, which are extremely cost-burdened and spend more than half of their income on housing. By contrast, almost no households in the top two quintiles are housing cost-burdened.