12 Shocking Housing Statistics You Should Know!

by | Nov 2, 2023

Graph showing housing statistics . 
2020 Bellingham Housing Tenure. Depicts 54% of housing is renter-occupied and 46% of housing is owner-occupied. Data from 2016-2020 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates.

The second graph shows Historic Housing Tenure (1980-2020). The US owner occupied and Washington state owner occupied line are fairly stable over time around 65%. And the US renter occupied and Washington state renter occupied is fairly stable over time around 35%. The Bellingham owner-occupied line shows that in 1980 we were at 54% and then the line drops until 2010 at 45% and then stays steady around 46% through 2020. It crosses the  renter occupied line, becoming less than 50% in the early 1990's. The renter occupied line is the exact reflection, so it starts at 46% in 1980 and then increases to 55% in 2010 and then steadies off at around 54% through 2020.

When talking about where we need to go next in the housing industry, it’s important to look at where we are currently and what our trajectory is. This will help us determine the needs of our current and future communities and what we can do to help them. To do this, let’s look at 12 housing statistics.

House Statistics for the United States:

-“In 2022, about 29% of all US households were one-person households

As our one-person households increase globally, we are no longer needing as many large single-family residences, rather we are needing more multi-family and middle housing options.

-By 2030 1 in 5 Americans will be 65+.

With our aging population, there is an increasing need for smaller and more affordable homes for the older population to live in that cannot afford to live in large single-family residences. This also means that the housing being built should consider universal design methods to make the homes accessible to folks using mobility aids and with various disabilities.

-By 2025 up to 85% of households will not have children.

A staggering number to look at! Regardless of why people are choosing not to have children these days, it means the population does not need as big of homes to house a family of 3+ anymore. The needs and priorities of our population are rapidly changing, so our housing needs to reflect that.

A table showing U.S. cities and the % of residential-zoned land allowing only single-family housing units (the first column) and % of residential-zones land allowing mulit-family housing units (second column). 

Most citied listed show 70-94% of the land is zoned for single-family housing except for New York city and Washington DC which have 15% and 36% respectively.

-As much as 80% or more of many cities is zoned exclusively for Single Family.

And yet the laws are still lagging behind and only allowing single-family residences to be built. An overhaul of the legislature is greatly needed in order to legalize multi-family/middle housing.

-Millennials are looking for walkable living and MMH (missing middle housing).

Studies even show that this generation of renters and home buyers aren’t looking for the traditional single-family home. They are wanting middle housing and housing in communities that are walkable–where they can walk to the grocery store, a park, a restaurant, the gym. But the zoning across most US cities doesn’t allow for this.

Housing Statistics for Bellingham & Whatcom County:

-Bellingham is expected to have an average population growth of 1,350 people per year in the next 20 yrs.

This may not seem like a lot, but when you think about the fact that our population is currently at just over 93k people and the vacancy rate is just under 2% (we are in need of more housing already), then the reality of the amount of housing we need to build in the next 20 years to not just keep up with the growth, but also make up for the lack of availability already is huge.

-The median income for Bellingham is around $60,000/yr.

This means that 50% of Bellingham residents make $60k/yr or less and the other 50% of residents make $60k/yr or more. This becomes more important when knowing the following facts.

A graph showing the percent of renter households cost burdened by type. The blue section (top section) of each bar represents those severely cost burdened, which are those who spend more than 50% of their income on housing. The orange section (bottom section) of each bar represents those who are cost burdened, which are those who spend more than 30% but less than 50% of their income on housing. 
Overall, elderly families are 45% cost burdened (including severely). Small families are 40% cost burdened (including severely). Large families are 52% cost burdened (including severely). Elderly non-families are 68% cost burdened (including severely). and other  types are 60% cost burdened (including severely).

A large family is 5 or more people in the same household; a small family is 4 or fewer people.

-“In Bellingham, 24% of homeowners and 56% of renters are cost burdened.”

If 56% of renters are cost burdened just renting, then that means the likelihood for more than half of our renters to be able to purchase a home is incredibly low. But homeownership is the best way to gain equity. So more than half of renters are stuck in the perpetual cost burdened cycle until something changes that makes housing more affordable or they are somehow able to make enough to purchase a home. But looking at the following facts, you’ll see that’s even harder than it sounds.

-“In the second quarter of 2019, the homeownership rates for white, Black, and Latino households were 73.1 percent, 40.6 percent, and 46.6 percent respectively – the largest differentials in fifty years.”

It’s important to note that of those that own homes in Whatcom County, it is mostly white individuals, leaving minorities stuck renting or houseless. Showing that while the issue of housing affordability affects everyone, it disproportionately affects minorities.

An infographic from Whatcom Housing Alliance for Cost of Renting Vs Buying in Whatcom County. 
Shows the facts, In 2022, the average rental cost was $1,693/mo; In order to afford this, a renter would need to make $33/hr or $67,720/yr. and The average mortgage payment is $3,439/mo; In order to afford this, a homeowner would need to make $66/hr or $137,560/yr.

-In 2022, the average rental cost was $1,693/mo; In order to afford this, a renter would need to make $33/hr or $67,720/yr. (WHA Cost of Renting Vs Buying in Whatcom County)

According to 2020 Census data, 71% of Bellingham households are made up of only 1-2 people. Looking back at the median income for Bellingham (which is $60k/yr), we can see that the average rental is not affordable for a huge portion of our community and it shows why 56% of renters are cost burdened.

-The average mortgage payment is $3,439/mo; In order to afford this, a homeowner would need to make $66/hr or $137,560/yr. (WHA Cost of Renting Vs Buying in Whatcom County)

We saw that 24% of homeowners are cost burdened, and its more shocking that more aren’t cost burdened when looking at the average mortgage payment and knowing only 50% of the community makes $60k or more. Even in a household of two making the median income wouldn’t be able to afford the average mortgage payment.

-The median home price in Whatcom County in February 2023 was $560,000; However, a couple making a collective $100,000/yr could only afford a house worth $385,000. (WHA What is Workforce Housing?)

An infographic from Whatcom Housing Alliance titled What is Workforce Housing? 
It explains that the salary of a Whatcom Transportation Authority transit operator  is $55,000 annually. It also says The median home price in Whatcom County in February 2023 was $560,000; However, a couple making a collective $100,000/yr could only afford a house worth $385,000. 
Workforce housing is any type of housing that is affordable for the working class - typically low-to-moderate income earners - that is near their jobs and other essential services.

In order for housing prices to reduce to a level that the typical Bellingham or Whatcom County resident can afford, we need to focus on building middle housing which is smaller and more affordable. It also allows us to build more units with more density, which will help address the vacancy rates and growing population. Middle housing is a great option for our aging population as well, as they can still live in the city where there are public facilities, and it is less expensive. Middle housing will also cater to our changing population dynamics as we see more and more childless and one-person households.

Thankfully Washington state recently passed HB 1110 which legalizes middle housing and HB 1337 which eases the restrictions on ADU’s. The city of Bellingham is also working hard to implement these at city-level for our near future.

As housing-for-everyone advocates, TC Legend Homes and Powerhouse Designs strives to educate the public on these important issues while providing healthy, net-zero, carbon neutral budget homes in an effort to not only help the housing crisis, but provide top-performing homes.

To further discuss middle housing and the path forward for our community, or to get started on your very own project, contact us today!