What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us
COVID-19

Home construction is surging, but it’s leaving out struggling renters

Mitchell Hartman Aug 18, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Even with the surges in homebuilders' confidence and some construction metrics, there is still an affordable renting housing crisis. Al Bello/Getty Images
COVID-19

Home construction is surging, but it’s leaving out struggling renters

Mitchell Hartman Aug 18, 2020
Even with the surges in homebuilders' confidence and some construction metrics, there is still an affordable renting housing crisis. Al Bello/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY


The National Association of Home Builders index hit a 35-year high this month — driven by low mortgage rates and strong demand for single-family homes in the suburbs and beyond. Meanwhile, U.S. home construction surged 22.6% in July, rebounding from a pandemic lull.

On the flip side, new construction for renters — which is to say, multi-family apartment buildings — is down in the pandemic.

Apartment market tracking firm RENTCafé predicts apartment construction will be down 12% from 2019 to the lowest level in five years.

Economist Robert Dietz at the National Association of Home Builders says that’s not good news for low- to middle-income renters who’ve suffered the most job losses in the pandemic.

“We still have an affordable rental housing crisis,” Dietz said.

Where apartment building continues to boom is places like Silicon Valley, Atlanta and Dallas, said Doug Ressler at RENTCafé’s parent company, Yardi Matrix.

“Tech centers, tech hubs — white-collar people that want to rent as lifestyle can work from home in terms of remote access,” Ressler said.

Going forward, Dietz predicts builders will put up fewer high-rises in dense urban areas and more suburban townhouses, where renters can social distance in the pandemic.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.