Half of Americans Struggling to Afford Their Mortgages

Americans have been struggling with housing affordability over the last three years, with 52% having to make sacrifices to cover their rent or mortgage, according to a recent survey.

Getting an additional job, deferring saving for retirement and cutting back on health care were just some of the sacrifices these struggling homeowners have made to afford housing, reports the “How Housing Matters Survey” conducted by Hart Research Associates.

The survey, commissioned by the nonprofit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, represents a shift among Americans’ attitudes toward the overall housing market and how they view homeownership as a valuable investment. 

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About 43% indicate it is no longer the case that owning a home is an “excellent long-term investment and one of the best ways for people to build wealth and assets.”

Additionally, more than half (54%) believe that buying a home has become “less appealing” than it once was, given the current market environment, while a similar proportion of adults (51%) believe that renting has become “more appealing.”

“The housing crisis that began more than five years ago has left an indelible mark on the attitudes and experiences of Americans,” stated Geoffrey Garin, president of Hart Research Associates. “Housing affordability has driven a large share of the American people to make significant financial adjustments.”

Driving these attitudinal changes is a growing perception that the aftermath of the housing crisis has yet to signal relief for a high proportion (70%) of Americans.

Of this group, 51% continue to believe the country is still in the midst of the crisis, while 19% believe that the “worst is yet to come.” 

The public in 2014 is only slightly more optimistic than it was a year ago, the survey notes, when 77% believed the nation was still in the grips of the crisis. 

“The continuing stresses felt by the vast majority of Americans in the aftermath of the housing recession are real and profound,” stated Jula Stasch, MacArthur’s vice president of U.S. programs. “It is clear that Americans believe more can and should be done to improve housing affordability for renters and owners, and that government should take action to invest in both equally.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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