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Evan Horowitz

Report paints vivid picture of housing market

What if you could get a comprehensive overview of the US housing market, and at no cost? OK, maybe it doesn’t compare with Ben & Jerry’s free cone day, but this afternoon, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard released its “State of the Nation’s Housing” report.

The report paints a vivid picture of our post-bubble housing market, where homeownership has become more rare, rents are less affordable, and minorities and young people have been particularly hard-hit. Here are just a few of the big takeaways.

1) Fewer people own homes

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At the peak of the real estate bubble, 69 percent of families owned their homes. Since that time, the home ownership rate has fallen to 65 percent.

2) Housing costs are a substantial burden

Housing is generally considered affordable if it costs less than 30 percent of a family’s income. About 1 in 3 US households pay more than that.

3) Renting has become less affordable

The cost of renting has gone up over the last decade, even as the income of renters has fallen.

4) Housing in Boston is expensive

Across Greater Boston, nearly half of all families don’t make enough money to buy an average home. That’s worse than what you find in some comparable cities, but still better than red hot markets like San Francisco.

5) Whites are more likely to own homes

Nearly three-quarters of white families own their homes. For black and Hispanic families, it’s less than half. In Boston, the numbers are smaller but the difference is just as pronounced. Roughly 46 percent of white families own their homes, as compared to 30 percent of black families.

6) Many younger people live with their parents

Half of all 20- to 24-year-olds now live with their parents. As the economy improves, it’s possible that more of them will find homes of their own. But for the last 30 years, the number of young people relying on their parents for financial support has been steadily increasing.

To be sure, some of these trends have been made worse by the flagging economy. But others are longstanding challenges, such as low rates of minority home ownership. So if you want the “State of the Nation’s Housing” to look substantially different in five or 10 years, it’s important to think about what policy changes you’d need to start making now.

Evan Horowitz digs through data to find information that illuminates the policy issues facing Massachusetts and the United States. He can be reached at evan.horowitz@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHorowitz
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