The decline in home ownership is at its worst since the Great Depression according to figures released by the Census Bureau on Thursday. According to the report released on 2010 census figures, home ownership rates fell to 65.1% last year. While that level remains the second highest decennial rate, many analysts say the Unites States housing industry may never return to its boom of nearly 70% of occupied homes owned by its residents seen in the middle part of this decade. The reasons given are tight credit, unemployment, and reduced government involvement.
Unemployed young adults are least likely to own, delaying first-time home purchases to live with Mom and Dad. Middle-aged adults 35-64, mostly homeowners who were hit with mortgage foreclosures or bankruptcy after the housing bust in 2006, are at their lowest levels of ownership in decades. Measured by race, the home-ownership gap between whites and blacks is now at its widest since 1960, wiping out more than 40 years of gains.
Blacks, who as a whole have lower income and higher unemployment than other groups, were particularly set back by the housing bust. Their homeownership rate fell from 46.3 percent in 2000 to 44.3 percent; among whites, the rate dipped slightly from 72.4 percent to 72.2 percent. Whites are now on average 1.63 times more likely than blacks to own a home, the widest gap since 1960.
“The changes now taking place are mind-boggling: the housing market has completely crashed and attitudes toward housing are shifting from owning to renting,” said Patrick Newport, economist with IHS Global Insight. “While 10 years ago owning a home was the American Dream, I’m not sure a lot of people still think that way.”