Housing insecurity is a complex experience that includes multiple dimensions, such as being forced to move, consistently being unable to afford housing, or living in poor-quality housing conditions, like overcrowding or having rodents or mold. Given this complexity, no standard definition or measure of housing insecurity exists to date.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s worst case housing needs reports, which are currently one of the largest efforts to measure this, combine housing affordability and some measures of severely inadequate housing among renter households based on American Housing Survey data. Data compiled from the last few reports shows between 15 and 16 percent of renter households without housing assistance were experiencing severe housing problems between 2015 and 2021.