The United States just faced the highest spike in homelessness rates on record, and that’s directly tied to the decline of the American middle class. New numbers suggest that middle-income families are the hardest hit by the ongoing housing crisis. Right now, the number of evictions and foreclosures is hitting sky-highs as affordability issues continue to worsen, and about 3 in 4 middle-class households can no longer afford current housing prices. NAR released a new report that shows that more than 75% of homes on the market are now too expensive for middle-income families. Researchers highlighted that workers earning up to $75,000 per year could afford just 23% of all listed properties in the U.S. Continued below the video
A study by Redfin found that 8.6% of listed houses in the U.S. were worth seven figures in August. These numbers underscore how in many areas of the country, million-dollar homes are not necessarily luxurious. They’re actually “normal” properties, according to LendingTree’s senior economist Jacob Channel. “There are a lot of areas, at this point where million-dollar homes have not only become more common, they’ve also — for lack of a better term — become more middle class,” he said. With prices rising far faster than people’s incomes, more and more families are in danger of losing their homes amid an explosion in the number of foreclosure filings. In the first half of the year alone, foreclosure starts shot up 15%, according to real estate data provider ATTOM’s Midyear 2023 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. Eviction rates are also climbing across the nation in the third quarter.
Princeton University’s Eviction Lab reported that the average number of eviction filings jumped 50% above the normal 2019 average. That’s before the pandemic and the boom that led home and rent prices to rise by more than 40% in just three years. Moody’s Analytics data indicates that the average renter is now cost-burdened, having to direct 30% of their pay towards rent, while about 25% of workers are spending 50% of their incomes on rent. Sadly, the number of homeless Americans has just reached a new record. According to data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. homeless population has grown by 11% in the first eight months of the year, the largest increase in at least 15 years.
While the number of unhoused people continues to rise, the number of middle-class families is steadily shrinking. In fact, U.S. Census Bureau data shows that just 50% of American adults lived in middle-income households last year. That’s about 15% lower than the number of middle-class families in the 1970s. New research by AnyTime Estimate exposed that home prices have skyrocketed by 1,608% since 1970, while inflation has increased by 644%. A $20,000 starter home in 1970 would cost $341,600 today. But if home prices grew at the same rate as inflation since 1970, the median home price today would be just $177,788. The American Dream is not only getting more expensive but also unattainable for most Americans. These figures reflect the precipitous decline in people’s purchasing power over the last five decades, especially when it comes to homeownership. And they also expose that middle-class families – considered by economists as the foundation of our country – are actually getting closer to homelessness than to fulfilling their dream of owning a home.
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