What You Need to Know About Affordable Housing in America

At Prosperity Now, we believe that financial security is the key to ensuring prosperity for all Americans. Among the most important ways to build financial security is through affordable homeownership. Owning a home offers families stability, security and assets that can be carried over for generations to come. Increasing access to affordable homeownership is also an effective tool for reducing the racial wealth divide.

Many obstacles prevent low- and moderate-income Americans from realizing the benefits of homeownership, such as limited access to affordable financing, decades of past and present discriminatory housing policy and a lack of affordable housing stock. To capture the scale of these barriers, the 2019 Prosperity Now Scorecard includes several outcome measures related to homeownership and housing.

These measures include homeownership rate, home affordability and housing cost burden among others, and are available at both the national and state levels. Affordability, cost burden and homeownership rate can be broken down even further at the local level, such as the county, city or congressional district. Many of these measures also include data by race, gender, disability and income.

For example, we can see that homeownership in the US currently sits around 63.9 percent. When we break it down by race, we see that 71.9 percent of White households are homeowners, compared to 46.4 percent of all households of color and 41.4 percent Black households.

The Scorecard also lets us look at housing cost burden for both renters and homeowners. A household is considered “cost-burdened” and at risk of failing to make rent or mortgage payments if the costs of housing such as rent, mortgage payments, taxes, utilities and other fees makes up over 30 percent of the household’s income. If we look at housing cost burden among renters by state, we find that Florida has the highest share of cost-burdened renters in the country at 56.4 percent. This measure can be further explored at the local level. When you look at Florida’s five largest cities, you find that the percentage of cost-burdened renters ranged from 53.1 percent in St. Petersburg to 66.4 percent in Miami.

Similarly, the Scorecard also has information about policy measures states can adopt to promote affordable housing and homeownership, broken down into specific policies or programs that support said policies. For example, when looking at the availability of first-time homebuyer assistance, the Scorecard shows that 44 states offer some form of downpayment assistance, 34 offer state-funded homeownership counseling and 15 offer direct lending programs. Hawaii and Indiana do not offer first-time homebuyer assistance programs, and there is no information available about any such programs in Alabama, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, New York and Virginia. Other housing policies in this year’s Scorecard include the availability of property tax relief programs, discrimination protections for low-income renters and support for resident ownership and titling/zoning laws for manufactured homes.

The data presented above is just a small taste of what the Prosperity Now Scorecard has to offer. For more information, check out the recently released key-findings report: Vulnerability in the Face of Economic Uncertainty, which highlights which Americans are being left behind in what is, by many macroeconomic measures, a healthy economy. This year’s Scorecard also includes a new ranking system as part of our continued focus on the racial wealth divide. More information about the methods and results of this new ranking system can be found in the report Accounting for Race: A New Way to Compare the Financial Health of Households in States.

Join the Affordable Homeownership Network to learn more about financial services integration and Prosperity Now’s work to make homeownership affordable for everyone.

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