Housing is a defining feature of cities. More than just shelter, housing is a vehicle for accessing the city’s assets and amenities, including jobs. Housing has long been an important vehicle for accumulating wealth, and the housing sector is an important contributor to local and national economic trends.
The nation’s housing market has had a roller coaster ride over the past decade. Since 2007, when the housing bubble collapsed, there’s been a major shift in the housing tenure for American households.
The following graph shows historic housing trends. While both owning and renting increased with population growth, a growing share of Americans lived in owner-occupied housing.
In the wake of the Great Recession, an increasing number of Americans have found themselves renting rather than owning. Over the past six years, the number of people living in owner-occupied homes has fallen by more than 3 million while the population of renters has increased by more than 17 million.
The big question going forward is whether this a temporary effect associated with a recession and a receding wave of foreclosures, or whether due to economic and demographic factors, the market for housing is forever changed. The answer will have a profound influence on the development of our cities.
To read more on housing and its relationship to urban form, placemaking, and more, go here, and be sure to check back regularly, as this is an issue we’ll be exploring in future posts.