Why the homeownership rate will keep falling – and falling, and falling

The home ownership rate in the U.S. has been tumbling since the height of the housing boom. Fewer and fewer of us own our homes — because foreclosures claimed them from us, or because the housing bust taught us to be wary, or because the economy ensured that families who might have bought in the past can’t afford a home today.

For a lot of reasons, though, this trend is not temporary. It won’t reverse when the housing collapse fades from memory, nor as the economy picks back up. In fact, according to a new projection from the Urban Institute, home ownership in America will likely keep falling all the way out to 2030. It will fall for the young and the middle-aged, for blacks and for whites. By 2030, Urban predicts, the U.S. home ownership rate will be as low as 61.3 percent — a number we haven’t seen in half a century.

Viewed another way: A big surge in renters is coming. And this trend has major implications for the kind of housing we should be building, as well as all of the housing we’ve already built. Between 2010 and 2030, according to the report, a majority of the estimated 22 million new households that will form in America will be renter households.

The number of home owning households will grow (because the U.S. population will), but the number of renters will grow a lot faster:

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