Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

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Improving America's Housing 2023

Sparked by pandemic-induced changes in household routines and use of living space, home improvement and repair spending soared to new heights in 2022, reaching an estimated $567 billion. Despite this enormous investment, the nation’s homes are aging and in growing need of major replacements, and for many older and lower-income homeowners, the burden of repair costs threatens their health and safety, as well as affordability.

How Much Can Downpayment Assistance Close Homeownership Gaps for Black and Hispanic Households?

The persistently wide homeownership rate gaps between Black, Hispanic, and white households mean that households of color are disproportionately excluded from the many potential financial and social benefits of homeownership. Addressing these inequalities calls for new policies and programs to support homeownership for these historically disadvantaged households. Downpayment assistance is one such program that has the potential to overcome a lack of savings, which is one of the most significant barriers.

Did More People Move During the Pandemic?

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in March 2020, there was a spike in the number of people moving—both permanently and temporarily—and a subsequent increase in popular narratives about a mass urban exodus or even a ‘Great Reshuffle.’ It was not uncommon to see media stories about flight from large, dense cities like New York and San Francisco, or about the explosive growth in vacation towns and rural areas. However, these narratives conflicted with emerging data on residential mobility, which showed that after the spike in moves in early 2020 mobility levels reverted to pre-pandemic trends and continued a long-term decline. This research brief uses several data sources to illustrate the nuances of changes in mobility over the past several years. It concludes that there was an acceleration of the pre-pandemic trend of moving to lower-cost states, as well as the trend of moving to suburban counties and smaller metropolitan areas. However, mobility rates fell overall during the pandemic due to a continued decrease in local mobility rates.


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