Unaffordable Housing: Why Housing is So Expensive and What We Can Do About It

By Julia Baumel — August 20, 2020

America has a housing problem that keeps getting worse. Too many working and middle-class Americans can’t afford a decent place to rent or buy. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the U.S. unemployment rate to levels last seen during the Great Depression. This policy paper explores the causes of the affordable housing crisis, obstacles in the way of solving it, and some short- and long-term solutions to promote the construction of new supply and make existing housing more...

Numbers At-A-Glance

  • 37.8 million

    renter and homeowner households paid more than 30% of their income on housing in 2019

  • In 95% of U.S. counties,

    a full-time worker earning federal or state minimum wage cannot afford to rent a modest, one-bedroom apartment

  • 75% of all residential land

    in many U.S. cities is zoned exclusively for single-family development, and this percentage is even higher in suburban areas

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