More Americans are losing faith that the housing crisis is really over. A new study released by the MacArthur Foundation has found that 81 percent of Americans believe that housing affordability is still a big problem, while more than two-thirds believe that it is more challenging today to secure such housing than it was for previous generations.
“Too many Americans today believe the dream of a decent, stable home and the prospects for social mobility are receding,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Having a decent, stable, affordable home is about more than shelter: It is at the core of strong, vibrant, and healthy families and communities.”
On the upside, 63 percent of those surveyed said they think much could be done to address problems of housing affordability, and that it should be addressed by the presidential candidates.
But the overall dark mood of the survey is even darker than a year ago. MacArthur’s findings show that 6 percent more Americans than in 2015 think the housing crisis is still palpable. Forty-four percent believe we are still in the middle of the housing crisis and 19 percent believe the worst is yet to come. About 39 percent still call the situation “a serious problem.”
Thursday’s report reverses what had been an upward trend in the number of people who felt the crisis was over. This year’s 29 percent of optimists is just above where numbers were in 2014, and down from last year’s 35 percent. And the pessimism is especially pronounced among renters. About 12 percent fewer renters and people 65 and older think the housing crisis is on the way out. This is the same decline among those with four-year college degrees. Along ethic lines, Hispanics are the most pessimistic since last year, with 13 fewer people thinking the worst is over.
“Too many Americans today believe the dream of a decent, stable home and the prospects for social mobility are receding.”
Julia Stasch, MacArthur Foundation President
Among the surveys other findings, stable, responders said that affordable housing is a fundamental component of economic security for families, yet Americans find it increasingly unattainable. One-third of adults reported that they know someone who has or have themselves been evicted, foreclosed upon, or lost their housing in the past five years. And three in ten adults spend more than 30 percent of their monthly household income on their rent or mortgage payment.
“It is understandable why so many Americans are still skeptical about the housing recovery,” said Geoffrey Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which helped conduct the survey for MacArthur. “Stable, affordable housing equates to feelings of security and having achieved a middle-class lifestyle, yet as Americans continue to make sacrifices to keep their homes. Americans want their elected officials to focus more on the challenge of affordable housing, and they think the issue has not so far received the attention it deserves from the candidates.”