Economic Prosperity and Housing Affordability in the United States: Lessons from the Booming 1990s
The United States is facing an acute shortage of reasonably priced housing with over 35% of households paying more than 30% of their income for housing costs in 2015. As the U.S. economy recovers from the Great Recession, will housing become less una ordable as incomes rise and households could potentially pay a lower share of their income for housing costs? To see if this is likely, I examined the change in housing a ordability in the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States between 1990 and 2000, a period of exceptional economic prosperity. I used the percentage of housing cost-burdened households (those that pay more than 30% of their gross income on ownership or rental costs) as a measure of the availability of reasonably priced housing. I used discriminant analysis techniques to detect statistically signi cant di erences in the percentage of cost-burdened households in the 100 MSAs based on a variety of factors. I found that despite the phenomenal economic prosperity of the 1990s, about 30% of households were cost-burdened both in 1990 and 2000. High MSA median income was correlated with a greater shortage of reasonably priced housing. Neither economic growth rate nor poverty rate nor population growth rate distinguished high-shortage MSAs from low-shortage ones. Large MSAs and MSAs in the West had greater shortages than other MSAs. Economic prosperity did not alleviate the problem of lack of reasonably priced housing in the past, and is not likely to do so in the near future. Planners and policy-makers need to enact new policies at local, regional, state, and federal levels to e ectively address America’s chronic a ordable housing shortage.