• Contesting the Streets
  • Volume 18, Number 1
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

On the Plausibility of a 53-Percent Homeownership Rate by 2050

Arthur C. Nelson
University of Arizona

Point of Contention: Declining Homeownership
For this issue’s Point of Contention, we asked scholars with substantial knowledge of the topic to argue for or against the following proposition—“By 2050, the U.S. homeownership rate, currently about 64 percent of households, will have fallen by at least 20 percentage points.” Please contact alastair.w.mcfarlane@hud.gov to suggest other thought provoking areas of controversy.


America’s homeownership rate has been drifting steadily downward since 2004, when it reached its historic peak of more than 69 percent. By 2010, the rate had fallen to 66.9 percent and, by 2015, it fell further to 63.4 percent. According to the Urban Institute (Goodman, Pendall, and Zhu, 2015), Myers and Lee (2016), and the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (2015), the homeownership rate will continue to fall during the next several years. But how far will it drop by mid-century? To answer this question, I review several trends that are poised to drive down homeownership rates, extrapolate trends to 2050, and offer implications for planning and policy.

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