Rental Housing Shortage

December 21, 1979

Report Outline
New Urban Housing Crisis
Impact of Condominium Sales
Future of the Rental Market
Special Focus

New Urban Housing Crisis

Renters Face Low Supply, High Demand

Coping with shortages has become an American way of life in the last decade. Another item now has been added to the list of things in short supply — rental housing. Reasonably priced rental units in good neighborhoods are becoming as hard to find as gasoline for less than $1 a gallon. Nationally, fewer than 5 percent of the rental units are vacant, a level the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers “dangerously low.” In many large cities vacancy rates are as low as 2 percent. People who are able to find a place to rent are paying more for the privilege. The gap between what a family pays for rent and for home ownership has practically disappeared in some cities.

The shortage of rental housing is being attributed partly to rising construction, maintenance and utility costs. A report published recently by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee said: “Sophisticated investors view the multi-family structure, except under unique circumstances and unique locations, as a relatively riskful, non-inflation-proof investment.” Consequently, fewer apartment buildings are being constructed.

Further aggravating the problem is the conversion of many existing apartments to condominiums or cooperatives. This trend is expected to escalate as rents fail to keep up with expenses. “Private rental housing in the United States has no future,” Michael Sumichrast, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, said recently. “We need them, but they are very hard to build.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 23, 2022  Homelessness Crisis
Apr. 02, 2021  Evictions and COVID-19
Mar. 02, 2018  Affordable Housing Shortage
Nov. 06, 2015  Housing Discrimination
Feb. 20, 2015  Gentrification
Apr. 05, 2013  Homeless Students
Dec. 14, 2012  Future of Homeownership
Dec. 18, 2009  Housing the Homeless
Nov. 02, 2007  Mortgage Crisis Updated
Feb. 09, 2001  Affordable Housing
Jan. 06, 1989  Affordable Housing: Is There Enough?
Oct. 30, 1981  Creative Home Financing
Nov. 07, 1980  Housing the Poor
Dec. 21, 1979  Rental Housing Shortage
Nov. 24, 1978  Housing Restoration and Displacement
Apr. 22, 1977  Housing Outlook
Sep. 26, 1973  Housing Credit Crunch
Aug. 06, 1969  Communal Living
Jul. 09, 1969  Private Housing Squeeze
Mar. 04, 1966  Housing for the Poor
Apr. 10, 1963  Changing Housing Climate
Sep. 26, 1956  Prefabricated Housing
Sep. 02, 1949  Cooperative Housing
May 14, 1947  Liquidation of Rent Controls
Dec. 17, 1946  National Housing Emergency, 1946-1947
Mar. 05, 1946  New Types of Housing
Oct. 08, 1941  Rent Control
Aug. 02, 1938  The Future of Home Ownership
Sep. 05, 1934  Building Costs and Home Renovation
Nov. 20, 1933  Federal Home Loans and Housing
Nov. 17, 1931  Housing and Home Ownership
Rental Housing