New Report Indicates Housing Shortage More Severe than Once Thought

New Report Indicates Housing Shortage More Severe than Once Thought

We simply are not building enough housing. That was the conclusion in “Housing Underproduction in the U.S.,” a report produced by the newly formed Up for Growth National Coalition. From 2000 – 2015, the U.S. underproduced 7.3 million units of housing, a shortage spanning 22 states and the District of Columbia. 

Such a shortage has a significant impact on quality of life for millions of Americans, across nearly all socioeconomic strata. Families are forced to pay more in rent or mortgages, and often live much farther away from job opportunities. Long commutes lead to less time spent with children and loved ones. Additional cars on the road means increased CO2 emissions. More and more working-class families are pushed into homelessness or experience increased housing uncertainty. 

Not only are we not building the kinds of communities both desired by and needed for a younger generation, but we also aren’t collecting local, state, and federal taxes that are associated with new housing construction. The economy is failing to reach its full potential; by some estimates we are over $3 trillion short on an annual basis, which compounds as long as the problem is not solved.

Few other issues as broad of an impact as housing, which is why it is even more surprising that housing has been ignored by federal lawmakers. Shouldn’t a problem with national implications necessarily attract the attention of the federal government?

The lack of attention – much less, action – is one of the primary reasons Up for Growth formed. We need to elevate the focus on the housing shortage and affordability crisis to a national level. Diverse interests and points of view must join together to provide the type of innovative solutions and policy choices that will ultimately lead to more housing – of all kinds – being built across the United States. This is a first and necessary step in solving the affordable housing crisis in our country.

Up for Growth’s Housing Underproduction Report also outlines scenarios in which we can make up the 7.3-million-unit shortfall, including transit-oriented “smart growth.” Under this approach, we can build walkable communities near transit stations while cutting down on the number of cars on the road, reducing land use, and increasing economic benefits and tax receipts. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream; it’s a reality if we work together to enact sensible policies that target the crux of the housing shortage.

Ensuring we build enough housing that is affordable to all Americans won’t be easy. But there is growing data that the housing shortage is too great to ignore, and the problem is only growing. Up for Growth hopes the Housing Underproduction report is a catalyst to change the conversation about the housing shortage and affordability crisis.

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