The wounds caused by the housing crisis are far from healing. In fact, the majority of Americans believe the country is still in the midst of the housing crisis, according to a new study from the MacArthur Foundation.
The MacArthur Foundation released its third annual How Housing Matters survey on Tuesday, and the survey’s results showed that most Americans still believe that the housing crisis isn’t over yet.
According to the survey, three in five Americans (61%) believe the country is either “still in the middle” of the housing crisis (41%) or believe “the worst is yet to come” (20%).
The MacArthur Foundation noted that this is an improvement over last year, when a combined 70% of respondents said that they believed the country was still in the midst of the housing crisis, but said that the “persistence of such pessimism seven years after widespread mortgage defaults helped trigger a deep recession is an indicator of ongoing concerns about housing affordability as well as lingering economic trauma.”
The survey’s results are based on 1,401 interviews conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the MacArthur Foundation between April 27 and May 5
The survey also found that despite the recent improvements in housing, many people are still facing serious challenges when it comes to paying their mortgage or their rent.
According to the survey, more than half of the population (55%) said they had to make at least “one sacrifice or tradeoff” in the past three years in order to cover their rent or mortgage.
Additionally, one in five (21%) reports having to get an additional job or work more, 17% stopped saving for retirement, 14% accumulated credit card debt, and 12% cut back on healthy nutritious foods.
The survey results showed that the segments of the public that had to make tradeoffs at the highest rates include renters (73%), racial minorities (68% of Hispanics and 62% of African Americans), Millennials (67%), and city dwellers (64%).
Majorities of Americans continue to believe that it is challenging to find affordable rental housing in their own communities (58% in both 2014 and 2015), and housing to purchase (60% in 2015, 59% in 2014), and even more challenging for families at the median income (65%), young adults (80%), or families at the poverty level (89%), the survey showed.
“Decent housing at an affordable price remains a challenge for an increasing number of Americans, even after the recession has formally ended,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “It is disturbing that people feel the American dream and prospects for social mobility are receding. This survey is a wake-up call. People want and expect solutions to the housing crisis to be a higher priority for both national and local leaders alike.”
The survey also showed that the residual effect of the housing crisis is impacting people’s view of the future as well.
According to the survey, the public remains more worried and concerned (60%) than hopeful and confident (32%) about the nation’s future. The survey showed that there is still deep skepticism about the ability of Americans to move up the socio-economic ladder, as indicated by four in five (79%) saying it is more likely for “middle-class people (to fall) into a lower economic class” than for “people in lower economic classes (to rise) into the middle class” – a belief that persists across political party, age, and income.
The survey showed that 76% of people believe it is either much more likely (45%) or somewhat more likely (31%) for banks today to foreclose on homeowners than it was a generation ago has only declined slightly since 2013, when 81% believed this.
Additionally, three in five (62%) now believe it is somewhat (37%) to much less likely (25%) for families today to build equity and wealth through homeownership compared to 20 to 30 years ago.
Much of the discussion about housing’s future has centered on Millennials and their looming impact.
According to the MacArthur survey, a vast majority of Americans believe it’s going to be much harder for Millennials to buy a home than it was for previous generations.
According to the survey, three in four (75%) Americans believe achieving a middle-class lifestyle has become harder for young adults, and when it comes to key achievements associated with a middle-class lifestyle, vast majorities believe it will be harder for young people to save for retirement (81%), own a home (76%), secure a stable decent-paying job (71%), or have a stable affordable housing situation (71%) than it was a generation ago.
The survey showed that 88% of Millennials say they are optimistic about their future, including nearly half (48%) that are very optimistic, many expect a more challenging road ahead for their own generation, with significant majorities believing that being able to own a home (77%), save for retirement (76%), have a stable, affordable housing situation (69%), and have a decent-paying job (65%) will be harder for them than it was for previous generations.
“Most Americans do not believe the housing crisis is over, and this has contributed to the public feeling shaken in its optimism about what the future holds, particularly for younger people,” said Geoffrey Garin, President of Hart Research Associates.
“The building blocks of success – having a good job, decent housing, and the ability to save for a secure future – are viewed as harder to achieve than they were a generation ago, and this in turn helps drive pessimism about social mobility,” Garin continued. “The idea that downward mobility is more likely today than upward mobility turns the American Dream on its head, and is an indicator of how badly confidence has been eroded.”
For the full results of the survey, click here.