A new annual report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies has confirmed what many tenants in Massachusetts’ ultra-competitive market already know: tenants who buy at the lowest and highest prices face a serious competition.

“Much of this demand over the past decade has come from higher-income households, but many tenants still have lower incomes,” said Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, research associate at the center and project manager for the report.

In a panel presentation on Friday, Airgood-Obrycki noted that rents rose 10.9% in the third quarter of 2021, an unprecedented level of growth, and that trend was driven by high-end apartments. Lower quality housing still saw a 4% increase in rental prices over the same period.

Demand has been partly driven by demographic trends: the very large millennial generation is now of renting age, in their twenties and thirties. Meanwhile, the number of baby boomer renters is also skyrocketing: while the number of renter households increased by 14% overall over the previous decade, the number of renter households headed by a senior jumped 43%.

High-income tenants have been enticed to continue renting by many larger, amenity-rich buildings popping up, the report notes.

High-income households were responsible for nearly 70% of total rental household growth between 2009 and 2019, according to the report.

But, the report notes, much of the recent growth in the share of high-income renters is due to fierce competition for units – data from Zillow shows home values ​​have climbed at an annual rate of 18, 9% in September 2021, compared to 5.7% the previous year.

Housing security for low-income tenants is of even greater concern, the report notes. Low-income households and black households were the most likely to have lost income during COVID-19 and ultimately fall behind on rent. Nearly a quarter of renters with incomes below $25,000 were behind on rent in the third quarter of 2021.

In Boston, affordable housing is hard to come by. A quick search on apartments.com for affordable accommodation in Boston yielded only 344 results. Mayor Michelle Wu announced plans last month to increase Boston’s affordable housing stock from 13% to 20% for new construction, as well as exploring the feasibility of rent control in the city.

Panelists at the Harvard event called on the federal government to step in and subsidize housing for full-time, low-wage renters, who make up a third of all renters, and for cities and towns to create zoning policies more user-friendly for more affordable multi-family housing. lodging.

The Baker administration has already begun to do so, issuing its first guidelines on zoning requirements, including affordable housing, for communities adjacent to MBTA last month.