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Contrary to the rosy forecasts by many housing industry economists, a new survey conducted on behalf of the MacArthur Foundation has determined that the American public does not believe the housing crisis is over.
The MacArthur Foundations’ 2015 How Housing Matters survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, polled 1,401 adults between April 27-May 5. Among the chief findings of the survey was the belief by three in five Americans (61 percent) that the nation was either “still in the middle” of the housing crisis (41 percent) or that “the worst is yet to come” (20 percent). While these numbers are admittedly high, they are below the levels from the MacArthur Foundation surveys from 2014 (a combined 70 percent), and 2013 (77 percent).
Furthermore, 55 percent of those polled admitted they had to make at least one sacrifice or tradeoff in the past three years in order to cover their rent or mortgage, while 21 percent reported having to get an additional job or work more, 17 percent stopped saving for retirement, 14 percent accumulated credit card debt, and 12 percent cut back on “healthy nutritious foods.” The demographic segments having to make tradeoffs at the highest rates included renters (73 percent), minorities (68 percent of Hispanics and 62 percent of African-Americans), Millennials (67 percent), and urban dwellers (64 percent).
Furthermore, the majority of Americans continued to believe that it is challenging to find affordable rental housing in their own communities (58 percent), and housing to purchase (60 percent). Three in five (62 percent) believed it is somewhat (37 percent) to much less likely (25 percent) for families today to build equity and wealth through homeownership compared to 20 to 30 years ago.
“Decent housing at an affordable price remains a challenge for an increasing number of Americans, even after the recession has formally ended,” said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. “It is disturbing that people feel the American dream and prospects for social mobility are receding. This survey is a wake-up call. People want and expect solutions to the housing crisis to be a higher priority for both national and local leaders alike.”