Affordable Housing: Is There Enough?

January 6, 1989

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The media tend to play up the horror stories: housing prices soaring out of control, rents so high that struggling single-parent families are forced into the streets, young couples unable even to think about buying their first home. But the hard data are inconclusive about whether a shortage of affordable housing exists at all.

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“We have a real tragedy unfolding,” Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., told Realtors gathered at their national conference last November. “We may not have GIs coming back from the war, but we have our youngsters” looking for housing. D'Amato pointed to his own daughter as an example of how difficult it is for young married couples to buy their first home: She and her husband had to pay a whopping $240,000 for what he described as “a very modest home.”

But accompanying the news report of D'Amato's dire pronouncement—on the same page of the newspaper, in fact—was a full-color chart showing that nationwide, houses are more affordable today than at any time since 1978. The chart, which depicted the National Association of Realtors' affordability index, indicated that a family earning the median income today has 12 percent more income than is needed to qualify for a loan on the median-priced single family home. In 1982, by comparison, that buyer was at least 30 percent short of the income needed to qualify.

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
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