March 2016

strong demand for rental housing.

“The difference is no longer about where people live, it’s about how people live: in spread-out, open, low-density privacy — or amid rough-and-tumble, in-your-face population density and diverse communities,” writes Kron, describing America’s increasingly urban-rural dichotomy.

Falling Income

Simultaneously, people are migrating to more affordable states because incomes are down, and higher home values and bigger mortgage costs are squeezing their pocketbooks. Stagnant and plunging wages are making the American dream of homeownership increasingly out of reach for many Americans. In 2014, the U.S. median household income was $53,657, compared with 1999 when the median household income was $57,843, according to the latest Census Bureau data. Lack of income growth means less ability to save, a reduced capacity to borrow, and fewer people buying homes. Reduced wages raises major affordability problems for millions of households.

Subdivided By Choice

Prior toKron’s revelation, Texas journalist Bill Bishopuncovered a startling demographic trend: Americans were increasingly choosing to live among like-minded neighbors, sorting themselves into neighborhoods — or clusters — that share the same economic, social, political, cultural — and even religious beliefs. Bishop — and new homebuilders — called this phenomenon “lifestyle” communities. “As Americans have moved over the past three decades, they have clustered in communities of sameness, among people of similar ways of life, beliefs, and in the end, politics,” writes Bishop in his fascinating book “ The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart .” This self-imposed housing segregation, reckons Bishop, is driven more by cultural factors rather than economic factors. “The Big Sort,” which grew out of a series of articles that Bishop, a former reporter for The Austin American Statesman , wrote with Robert Cushing, a retired sociologist and statistician

If incomes are down how can people afford to buy a home?

Urban Versus Rural

Not surprisingly, America’s housing refugees are fleeing big cities and either moving to the suburbs or rural America, according to a report in the Atlantic , “Red State, Blue City: How the Urban-Rural Divide Is Splitting America,” written by journalist Josh Kron, who describes how a “stark division” between cities and rural areas is emerging nationwide.

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Median U.S. Household Income

SOURCE: Census Bureau


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