A new report released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, evaluating housing supply and demand in 2016, underscores the extent to which California and the rest of the West Coast are out of commission as the population increases.
How is the nation faring as a whole?
The share of households with rental housing is around 27 percent in the United States, not far off what it was in the early 1990s, but a lot higher than the 6 percent when the Census Bureau began regularly collecting data from 2000. The number of single-family homes available for rent fell to 59.1 million in 2016, a downward trend that goes back 20 years. Only 11.7 million single-family homes were put up for sale that year.
In the West, the supply of single-family homes for rent fell 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2016, not much faster than the national rate. Over the same period, however, the supply of homes available for purchase grew 19.6 percent in the West, an encouraging improvement. Home prices in the West rose at a rate of 13.4 percent, the most of any region of the United States.
Although the West’s large population added to the supply of housing available for rent and purchase in 2016, it also added to the demand for housing, contributing to the rising prices. Nationwide, median home prices topped $319,000 in 2015, up nearly 30 percent from the middle of 2007, the last year of the housing boom, according to the Census Bureau.
Meanwhile, the need for housing among families with children has fallen, owing to the boost in the percentage of households with an unemployed spouse who remained at home, and lower fertility rates. The proportion of children who lived with parents dipped below 25 percent for the first time in a decade in 2015, according to census data.
The housing shortfall in the West, the report concludes, “is expected to continue to grow over the next two decades.”