Poverty, inflation, and gov't benefits are calculated as if renters spend 30% of their income on housing. Increasingly, that number is a fantasy. Here's the hourly wage a full-time worker would need to "afford" to rent a 2-bedroom unit in every state.
Long story short: don't live anywhere near rich people if you don't want to starve.
Out of Reach is a program from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition that has focused on the problem of rent (un)affordability since 1989. Every year, they put out a report detailing what you would need to earn to really afford to live in the U.S. For a slightly different way of looking at it, here's how many hours you'd need to work at local minimum wages to afford a place for your family:
New York bankers and California tech people view 100-hour work weeks as a mark of pride, but they have slightly bigger houses.
Obviously, this is just a state-by-state map. The numbers would be even crazier if it singled out large cities like San Francisco. Clearly, this hits low-skilled workers and their families directly, but also retirees and other fixed-income earners. Normally, economists would hope time would smooth out these market problems, but rents just keep rising.
What does this mean in dollars and hours?
Virtually all calculations of inflation, poverty, and government benefits include the "30% rule," which estimates families spend 30% of their income on housing. As you can see, there's a big gap between what renters earn and how much they'd need to in order for their rent to be 30% of their monthly take-home pay:
This is what is referred to in Econ 101 as a market failure.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown gave a foreword to the report:
In my home state of Oregon, and in communities across the country, working families searching for affordable rental units find little to nothing in their price range. There simply isn't enough reasonably priced, decently maintained housing to meet the demand, and rapidly rising rents outpace wages. As a result, one out of four households spends more than half their income on housing costs. People with low or fixed incomes face even bleaker situations.
In the wake of the housing crash of 2008, apparently, America is facing a perfect storm of problems for rentals. You would think a lot of the excess housing built in the mid-to-late 2000s would have turned to rentals, but you'd be wrong.
TL;DR: Not wanting to be rained on in America is expensive.
There are a litany of problems. Many foreclosed or unsold homes were left vacant by banks or are occupied by debtors. On the other hand, wealthy families have done very well since '09, so the for-sale market has increasingly been catering to their needs over others. So, families who were not-quite-rich decided to rent instead, which in turn crowded out lower-income people who don't have any option except to rent. So now we've got many more renters, fewer rentals, and no one willing to convert for-sale homes to rentals because maybe some rich person will pay cash for a second summer pied-a-terre.
I just thought maybe that video would cheer you up.