On June 18, 2018, The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released the “State of the Nation’s Housing 2018” report, marking the 30th anniversary of its release. The report is released annually and provides an overview of housing market conditions in the United States. The 2018 release also looks back at the last 30 years to examine how key metrics have changed and progress on the goal of producing decent and affordable homes for everyone.
This blog post provides a high-level overview of the report and key takeaways for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Mecklenburg County Community Support Services also offers considerations for the community in the “So, What” section at the bottom.
WHAT’S CHANGED (OR HASN’T) FROM 1988 TO 2018
Between 1988 and 2018, over 40 million units have been built, housing 27 million new households. However, there were housing challenges in 1988 that still exist today. These include high mortgage interest rates, which make homeownership difficult for many; and a high demand for rental housing combined with a rapid loss of low-cost rental units.
During the same thirty-year period, the number of very low-income families has increased from 13 million to 19 million. In 2018, the share of cost-burdened renters is significantly higher than it was in 1988 due in part to rising housing costs and weak income growth among low- and moderate-income households.
Income inequality plays a role in the problem of housing affordability. Between 1988 and 2017, the gross domestic product per capita, which is a measure of total economic gains, increased 52%. According to the report, if income had kept pace more broadly with the economy’s growth over the past 30 years, income would have easily matched the rise in housing cost.
Federal leadership is needed to address the housing challenges that have persisted over the last thirty years, and which continue to grow, especially for certain populations. This includes increased funding to expand existing programs like housing choice vouchers, LIHTC as well as other subsidy sources. It also includes providing pathway opportunities for homeownership that cross all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The local sector has the power and potential to also make significant change. Mecklenburg County Community Support Services has outlined below considerations from the report for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. They require multiple sectors to collaborate and innovate to create real and sustainable change.
- Allow and encourage higher-density development
- Integrate simpler housing designs
- Streamline the approval process for funding and permitting
- Increase the number of affordable units in high-rent areas
- Leverage private sector funding flexibility to supplement public sector housing assistance
This post is co-authored by Ashley Williams Clark and Courtney Morton.
Ashley Williams Clark is the Director of Outreach & Strategic Partnerships at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. The Director of Outreach & Strategic Partnerships is a new position created to help the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute strengthen its visibility and impact throughout the Charlotte region through the building of collaborative partnerships to address important regional issues. Ashley is also the author of the report, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Evictions Part 1: Evictions in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
Courtney Morton coordinates posts on the Building Bridges Blog. Courtney is the Housing & Homelessness Research Coordinator for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. Courtney’s job is to connect data on housing instability, homelessness and affordable housing with stakeholders in the community so that they can use it to drive policy-making, funding allocation and programmatic change.