Yonah Freemark

What Is a Housing Shortage?

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Yonah Freemark (2024). “What Is a Housing Shortage?.” Housing Policy Debate; online pre-print.

DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2024.2334019

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Journal website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10511482.2024.2334019


The United States has faced decades of increasing housing costs and declining construction. Many scholars and policymakers argue that additional supply is necessary to combat inadequate availability. Some critics, however, argue that the nation faces no housing shortage except for extremely low-income renters, which could be addressed by leveraging the existing stock and expanding the availability of rental vouchers. I argue instead for a continued emphasis on increasing supply as a mechanism to improve housing conditions. I show, first, that additional housing stock is associated with more units per additional resident in an area. Second, I demonstrate that increasing supply is positively associated with lower housing cost growth, though other issues, like household income growth, are likely more important variables in explaining affordability. Finally, I contest the use of metropolitan geographies as the most appropriate level for examining housing affordability, given the nation’s history of segregation and variation in access to opportunity.