America’s Housing Shortage Is More Dire Than We Thought

How much housing does America need to reduce soaring prices? Potentially more than anyone has estimated.

Read Time: 1 minute

November 22, 2022, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


In researching the extent of the U.S. housing shortage for The Atlantic, Annie Lowrey got one common reply from experts: “whatever the number is, it’s enormous.”

According to Lowrey, the difficulty in assessing just how many housing units are needed to bring prices down for the average household “means we have no policy vision of how to make our biggest, most productive places affordable for all, and no plan to get there.”

This is not just unfair to Americans who want to move to these places. High rents and sale prices in major cities are a policy choice, one that puts gates around many of our most wonderful places and taxes the folks lucky enough to live there. And it is unfair to all of us. A United States with more abundant housing in its big cities would have a more productive, vibrant, and dynamic economy too.

Lowrey details the painful reality of families dealing with increasingly unaffordable housing costs in cities and towns around the country. Like other authors, Lowrey comes to the conclusion that  “The problem is largely, if not exclusively, the result of the country not permitting enough homes where people want them.” Addressing displacement concerns, Lowrey explains that “displacement happens only because building dense housing is illegal in many rich neighborhoods, and because cities build so little of it overall.”

Monday, November 21, 2022 in The Atlantic

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