Most Americans Cite a Housing Affordability Crisis Nationwide

Nearly three out of four American households believe that the nation is suffering a housing affordability crisis, and a majority of respondents reported this is a problem at their local and state level as well, according to a new nationwide survey conducted on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“These poll results confirm what builders from across the nation have been warning about—that housing affordability is an increasingly serious problem in communities across America,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, Louisiana. “A mix of regulatory barriers, ill-considered public policy and challenging market conditions is driving up costs and making it increasingly difficult for builders to produce homes that are affordable to low- and moderate-income families.”

More than 2,200 adults were surveyed Nov. 27 through Nov. 30 to assess the public’s attitude on whether a lack of affordable housing is a problem in their neighborhoods, cities, states and nationwide. The poll cut across partisan, regional, demographic and socio-economic lines. Among its key findings:

  • 73 percent of all respondents believe that a lack of affordable housing is a problem in the U.S.
  • 68 percent believe this is an issue in their state and 54 percent cite housing affordability as a concern in their neighborhood.
  • 58 percent said that if they decided to purchase a home in the near future, they would have trouble finding a home they could afford in their city or county.
  • Breaking down by community types, 68 percent reported a dearth of affordable housing as a problem in urban communities, 64 percent said it was an issue in middle-class neighborhoods and 56 percent cited a problem in rural areas.

In terms of strategies to improve the lack of affordable housing, 55 percent believe it would be effective for their city or county to lower development and construction fees builders must pay so that more affordable units can be built and 53 percent believe it would be effective to increase government subsidies to builders to produce more affordable units.

The poll is also consistent with the latest findings from NAHB’s Housing Trends Report for the third quarter of 2018, which finds that 79 percent of buyers say they can afford to purchase fewer than half of the homes available in their local markets.

Nearly a third of America’s 119 million households are cost burdened and pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing, according to NAHB analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. That number includes almost half of the nation’s renter households and a quarter of the owner households.

Regulatory requirements alone account for about 25 percent of the cost of constructing a single-family home and roughly 30 percent of the cost of a multifamily unit. And every day, builders grapple with increasing construction material costs, a shortage of skilled workers and a dwindling supply of developed lots. Restrictive policies that limit or even prohibit various types of homes and make large areas off-limits to new construction contribute significantly to the problem.

“Housing is vital to the economic health of our nation,” said Noel. “This poll should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers at all levels of government to ease regulatory burdens that needlessly drive up the cost of housing and to enact policies that will encourage the production of badly-needed affordable housing units.”

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