Community Dividend

State of U.S. housing mixed, report says

Published September 1, 2005  | September 2005 issue

A report from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies reveals mixed housing conditions in the U.S. According to The State of the Nation's Housing 2005, housing markets are strong overall, but more and more Americans are experiencing affordability issues that stem from the mismatch between the economy's new, low-wage jobs and the high costs of housing.

The report examines housing data from more than 150 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas. On the positive side, it finds that the 13-year housing boom shows no immediate signs of weakening, and the national homeownership rate is at an all-time high of 69 percent. However, the minority homeownership rate lags far behind that of whites, and growing numbers of U.S. households face housing-affordability challenges. The report states that nearly 1 in 3 households is at least moderately "cost-burdened" in its housing expenses, meaning that it spends more than 30 percent of its pretax income on housing. More than 1 in 8 households are severely cost-burdened, spending more than 50 percent of their pretax income on housing. An additional 2.5 million households live in crowded or structurally inadequate units, and high housing prices in and around central business districts force millions more to live in outlying areas where their housing savings are offset by increased transportation costs.

To access the report, visit