Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a new report, "Worst Case Housing Needs 2009." The report revealed that over 7 million very low-income renter households who do not receive government housing assistance had worst case needs in 2009 - an increase of 20 percent since the last count in 2007. Households with worst case needs are those who paid more than half their income for rent, lived in severely inadequate conditions, or both. The report cites three major causes for the increase, including: 1) shrinking incomes and unemployment among low-income households, 2) growth in the rental assistance gap, and 3) a surge in competition for affordable rental units. The report also notes that the "need for prioritizing assisted housing in national policy deliberations has never been greater."