Homes provide more than just the basic need for shelter. Homes offer a sense of security, comfort, and belonging that often cannot be replicated. Unfortunately, renting or owning a home is no easy feat in today’s housing market. While the U.S. housing market may be financially cooling down, housing experts argue that there are simply not enough homes for Americans. 

The global pandemic saw significant increases in the median costs of homes across the country. With higher mortgage rates, steep housing prices, and low inventory, the U.S. housing market has been filled with challenges for renters, lessors, buyers, and sellers, making finding an affordable place to call home feel impossible on all sides. 

Rental costs are reaching an all-time high in many areas. Albuquerque, New Mexico resident, Natalie French, and her roommate received notice that their rent was increasing by more than $200 a month. Factoring in pet fees with the rental increase, both tenants were put out of their price change and forced to move out.

But French is not the only one suffering from the consequences of increased housing costs, with rents reaching historical highs. Half of U.S. renters are spending 30% or more of their monthly income on rent, and one-quarter of renters are spending more than 50% of their income on housing

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Solutions to the housing market challenges are topping priority lists throughout local and federal governments, with policymakers, community organizations, employers, and other stakeholders trying to find ways to meet the availability and affordability needs of Americans. 

Unfortunately, housing experts explain that there is a massive shortage of homes across the nation – somewhere between 4 million to 7 million homes short. In an interview with Alex Horowitz, the director of Pew’s Housing Policy Initiative, All Things Considered, host, Mary Louise Kelly, aimed to understand if the shortage of all homes or affordable homes is the root of the problem. 

Horowitz explained that there is a shortage of all homes and high and low-income households are now competing for the same residences because not enough homes are being built. The cause of the reduced number of homes being built is the result of restrictive zoning, which is creating an immense housing shortage in areas where there are jobs. With the demand and costs of housing raising concerns, many Americans are voicing their support for zoning policies that will boost housing availability and affordability. 

This lack of homes is making it difficult for first-time homebuyers to find a place to settle. Starter homes are traditionally smaller, built on smaller lots, or are townhomes. Horowitz says, “We’re seeing far fewer of those coming onto the market. Many jurisdictions require large minimum lot sizes, and that means that land costs end up being a big part of the equation.” Ultimately leading to higher housing costs that homebuyers might not have.

At the state and local levels, efforts are being made to legalize lower-cost homes and reduce parking minimums to help foster the development of new apartment buildings. As finding a place to call home becomes increasingly difficult due to the lack of available spaces and high rental or mortgage costs, addressing these concerns could become critical to future generations of Americans.