The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University recently issued their annual report on American housing. A few of the more interesting facts:
*Rental demand has been surging. The number of renter households increased by 600,000 in the last year alone, and has increased by about 10 million since 2000. NIMBYs like to argue that rental demand is driven by rich foreign investors–but in fact, renter growth is pretty broad-based. For example, the share of children living in rental housing increased from 29 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2016 (Ch. 5)
* Although multifamily starts have increased dramatically since the recession, it’s still not up to 20th-century levels. In 1985 there were 669,000 multifamily starts; the number decreased over time, bottoming out at 109,000 in 2009. The current level of 393,000 is only slightly above the peaks of recent booms (353,000 in 2005, 346,000 in 1998) (Appendix, Table A-1). The current vacancy rate (6.9 percent) is the lowest since 1985.
Bottom line: demand is high, supply less so.
Michael Lewyn is an associate professor at Touro Law Center in Central Islip, NY. His scholarship can be found at http://works.bepress.com/lewyn , and he recently wrote the book "Government Intervention and Suburban Sprawl: The Case for Market Urbanism."
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