On June 2, the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation released the results of its second “How Housing Matters” survey. The nationwide telephone survey of 1,355 adults, conducted by Hart Research Associates between April 8 and April 14, over sampled owners and renters paying more than 30% of income toward housing.
A key finding is the widespread public understanding of housing insecurity. While most Americans report that their current housing is very stable and secure (56%) or fairly stable and secure (24%), 47% report that they have experienced insecure and unstable housing at some point. Renters (56%) are more likely to have experienced housing insecurity than owners (42%). When asked about the availability of quality, affordable housing in their communities, majorities said finding such housing to rent (58%) or to buy (59%) is challenging. Further, the public recognizes that finding quality affordable housing is very difficult for low and moderate income families. Almost nine in ten (88%) said it is a challenge for a family of four with income at $24,000 to find quality affordable housing, while 58% recognize the challenge for a family of four with income at $50,000.
There is also an understanding of the choices faced by families who struggle to afford their homes, including taking a second job or working more hours (82%), not saving for retirement (73%), building up credit card debt (72%), cutting back on health care (62%), or cutting back on healthy food (55%). Moreover, 52% report that they have had to make one or more of these tradeoffs in the last three years to be able to afford their homes.
The housing crisis is far from over according to most Americans. Seventy percent think the country is still in the midst of a housing crisis, or that the worst is yet to come. This opinion is shared by people of all ages, races, and educational levels. Half of all respondents thought that buying a home is still an excellent long-term investment, but 43% disagreed. This pessimism about housing as an investment cuts across all ages, races, educational levels, and regions of the country. Half (51%) indicated that renting a home has become more appealing, while 54% think buying a home has become less appealing. Becoming a homeowner is not required to achieve the American Dream; 58% believe renters can be as successful as homeowners, while only 32% think that homeownership is necessary to be successful.
The survey report, data, and webinar presentation are at: http://bit.ly/1tYfKj8