Homeownership Decline Outpaces All but Great Depression

Thursday, October 13, 2011   /   by Justin Hoffmann

Homeownership Decline Outpaces All but Great Depression

The national homeownership rate fell by 1.1 percentage points between 2000 and 2010. The U.S. Census Bureau says it’s the steepest drop since the period from 1930 to 1940, when the rate plummeted by 4.2 percentage points.

Housing woes are, without question, taking a bite out of the American Dream.

Unprecedented levels of foreclosures have forced more than 3 million homeowners out of their homes over the past four years. And with $7 trillion in home equity wiped out since 2005, many are leery of putting their hard-earned dollars toward an investment that is still depreciating.

The Census Bureau said in its report released this week that the U.S. homeownership rate slipped to 65.1 percent in 2010. Even with the sharp decline over the previous 10 years, that rate is the second highest on record since homeownership data collection began in 1890, behind only the year 2000.

All but one metropolitan area had more homeowners than renters in 2010. With a homeownership rate of 49.5 percent, Manhattan, Kansas, was the only metro where renters outnumbered homeowners.

While homeowners were the majority in most of the nation’s metro areas, they were outnumbered by renters in many of the country’s largest cities, including the four most populous cities. Last year, New York renters made up 69.0 percent of households, followed by Los Angeles (61.8%), Chicago (55.1%), and Houston (54.6%).

The national housing inventory increased by 15.8 million units, or 13.6 percent, from 2000 to 2010. While housing supplies increased in all states during the decade, they grew fastest in the South and West.

According to the 2010 Census, there were 131.7 million housing units in the United States. Of these, 116.7 million had people living in them. The remaining 15.0 million units — 11.4 percent — were vacant.

By Carrie Bay

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