U.S. Faces Historic Housing Shortages, With Roots in the Recession and Local Zoning Restrictions

The long-term effects of the Great Recession were timed very poorly for millions of Millennials aging into homebuying years. The pandemic and the traditional zoning preferences of communities aren't doing first-time homebuyers any favors.

1 minute read

April 4, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Housing Construction

JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

Citing May 2021 research by Freddie Mac that estimated the nationwide housing shortage to total 3.8 million units, a recent article by Chris Arnold for NPR digs into the United States' historic housing shortage and identifies roots that stretch back to the Great Recession and mortgage crisis of 2008.

"It was the worst housing market crash since the Great Depression. Many homebuilders went out of business," writes Arnold of the fallout from the Great Recession. "A few years later, as Americans started buying more homes again, building stayed below normal. And that slump in building continued for more than a decade."

The building slump originating in the Great Recession is presently exacerbated by delayed and expensive building materials, according to the article. Add to all of those factors the poor timing of the arrival of the largest generation ever to the homebuying market, and the result is the current housing market, complete with record price increases and historic lack of inventory.

The homebuilding industry is scrambling to keep up, but challenges remain, according to the article. Among the current challenges working against the industry's ability to build the supply to catch up to demand, according to sources quoted in the article, are a lack of skilled labor and a lack of capacity for townhomes and other entry level homes in local zoning codes.

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