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National homeownership rate to remain above 60%

The national homeownership rate is predicted to remain above 60% for the foreseeable future, according to research performed for the Bipartisan Policy Housing Commission.

Despite the collapse of the housing market, the commission strongly believes that, when responsibly undertaken, homeownership can produce powerful economic, social, and civic benefits that serve the individual homeowner, the larger community, and the nation, the BPC wrote in a report released Monday.

The BPC says that the key to ensuring that homeownership remains a vital housing and wealth-building option is a combination of regulation, adequate liquidity and the right incentives in the private market.

Renters, who make up 35% of the U.S. population, are expected to continue growing as members of the Echo Boom generation begin to form their own households, while Baby Boomers are starting to downsize.

Of the 41 million renter households in the U.S., nearly 80% of the nation’s most vulnerable households, those with incomes at or below 30% of area median income, spend more than half of their incomes on housing. Even more startling, nearly two-thirds spend 50% of their income or more.

However, according to the BPC, federal assistance programs are meeting only a fraction of the need. These programs currently assist approximately five million low-income households to get into an affordable home. This translates into one in four renter households that are eligible for assistance actually receiving it.

The commission believes that the most vulnerable households should be guaranteed access to housing assistance, such as the Housing Choice Voucher program. Also, the commission suggested that the supply of suitable, affordable and decent homes be increased in order to meet the projected demand.

By providing short-term emergency assistance for low-income renters, these programs can be used to help cover security deposit payments, back rent and other housing-related costs. This assistance is delivered as a restricted supplement to the HOME Investment Partnerships program.

These recommendations, if fully implemented, would help to meet the needs of an additional five million vulnerable renter households and contribute to the elimination of homelessness—through production, preservation, and rental assistance, the report says.

The BPC emphasizes that a transition period will be inevitable before these recommendations can fully be implemented.

mhopkins@housingwire.com

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