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CRL on Harvard Report: Nation Must Face its Affordability Housing Crisis

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Nikitra Bailey

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) released its annual report, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2019. (PDF) Published annually since 1988, this year’s report again identifies recent trends and issues facing the housing industry. Key to this year’s findings are:

  • In 2019, the cost of a median-priced home rose by 4% to $261,600, outpacing the growth of median household income for the seventh straight year.
  • The price-to-income ratios rose in 85 of the nation’s largest markets last year.
  • More than 60% of home mortgages issued in the second half of 2018 involved down payments of less than 20%, and more than 40% entailed down payments of less than 10%.
  • Nearly $52,000 would be required to make a 20% down payment on a median priced home. Even if buyers opted for an FHA 3.5% down payment mortgage, more than $9,000 would be needed to pay it, closing costs, and related fees.

In response to these and other findings, Nikitra Bailey, an Executive Vice President with the Center for Responsible Lending, made the following statement:

Every household needs a home that can fit their family budget. But this year’s report signals that becoming a homeowner is increasingly difficult for families at all income levels. The number of housing-burdened rental households – those paying more than 30% of their income on housing – outnumber cost-burdened homeowners by 3.0 million.

It is equally noteworthy that once again this key report shares how consumers of color continue to face challenges in becoming homeowners. According to the report, only 43% of Blacks and 47% of Latinx own their own home, while white homeownership remains at 73%.

This 30% disparity deserves further examination and proportional remedies. Greater access to safe and affordable credit, better fair housing enforcement, preservation of anti-discrimination laws – including disparate impact – can play a role in eliminating homeownership gaps. Further, as the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are publicly debated, a renewed commitment to serve all creditworthy borrowers must be embraced.

As a nation, we owe this and future generations the opportunity to have their own American Dream and its accompanying opportunity to build family wealth. Many consumers have the will. It is now incumbent upon those in leadership – both public and private, to demonstrate the equitable way forward.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a CRL spokesperson on this issue, please contact Charlene Crowell at