Charts of the Week: Housing affordability, COVID-19 effects


In Charts of the Week this week, housing affordability and some new COVID-19 related research.

How to lower costs of apartment building to make them more affordable to build


In the first piece in a series on how improved design and construction decisions can lower the cost of building multifamily housing, Hannah Hoyt and Jenny Schuetz observe that from 2010 to 2019, the amount of U.S. households that rent homes rose from 32% to 39%. “Improving housing affordability is critical to reducing financial stress on renter households,” they write, and “It will take cooperation among all partners in the development process—architects, developers, builders, and policymakers at all levels of government—to achieve success.”

The COVID-19 crisis is leaving more children hungry in America

FIgure 1Lauren Bauer notes that “since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has increased in the United States.” By the end of April 2020, more than one in five of all U.S. households, and two in five of U.S. households with mothers and children 12 and under, were food insecure. Bauer concludes that “food security programs, centrally SNAP and Pandemic-EBT, must be strengthened and expanded immediately.”

Will the Big city downtown boom outlast the coronavirus?

Map2Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane explain that that after decades of shrinking, the 53 largest U.S. metro areas (over 1 million population) experienced downtown growth that was faster than their home counties. “The surge in downtown populations is an overwhelmingly positive sign for the cities and metro areas where it’s taking place,” they write, due to the increased desirability of connection to jobs, people, and attractions. But will this growth continue in the face of the coronavirus pandemic? Tomer and Fishbane conclude that based on their research and “the pro-urban attitudes we see sprouting across the country, there’s good reason to expect cranes will keep transforming downtown skylines and surrounding neighborhoods for years to come.”