U.S. housing starts climbed 18.6% in Jan.

WASHINGTON (AP) – March 8, 2019 – U.S. housing starts jumped 18.6 percent in January, as builders ramped up construction of single-family houses to the fastest pace in eight months.

The Commerce Department said Friday that January ground breakings occurred at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23 million. Home construction rebounded sharply from December, when the annual rate was just 1.04 million.

Most of the new construction came from single-family houses, which were being built at the strongest rate since May 2018. Still, overall housing starts in January were slightly below the 2018 total of 1.24 million as the pace of apartment construction slowed.

The housing market was hurt for much of 2018 by rising mortgage rates, which made it costlier to purchase a home. But average rates have declined since early November and the average 30-year rate was 4.41 percent this week, providing a possible boost for home buying this year.

Permits for construction, an indicator of future activity, improved 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.35 million. The permits suggest additional apartment construction in the coming months, as that segmented accounted for the gains. Single-family permits fell 2.1 percent in January to an annual rate of 812,000.

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Affordable housing: Americans want help getting in

WASHINGTON – June 22, 2017 – Most Americans and Canadians say their nations aren’t doing enough to address and solve affordable housing needs, according to Habitat for Humanity’s Affordable Housing Survey. Escalating costs remain a top barrier preventing families from accessing decent homes with affordable mortgages, the survey says.

“In many ways, housing is an invisible crisis,” says Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “There are still too many families without access to safe, secure and affordable housing. This survey highlights the value all of us place on a decent place to call home and underscores the critical need to increase access to affordable housing.”

Owning a home is a key rung on the ladder of economic advancement. What happens if that rung remains elusive for many?

According to the survey, nine out of 10 Americans say owning a home is one of their greatest achievements in life. Also, 68 percent of U.S. renters say owning a home is one of their chief goals, according to the survey. PSB, on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, surveyed 1,000 people in the U.S. and Canada to gauge their perceptions of, and challenges to, affordable housing.

Ninety-one percent of American homeowners credited owning a home with making them more responsible, and 44 percent said it helped them build a nest egg. Forty-one percent say homeownership has given them stability.

But homeownership remains out of reach for many. Nine out of 10 Americans and Canadians say it’s important to find solutions to the lack of affordable housing. At 59 percent, concerns regarding U.S. affordability in particular easily topped other housing issues like safety (16%) and quality (11%).

One major barrier to homeownership cited among survey respondents: the high cost of rent. Eighty-four percent of survey respondents said the high cost of rent was preventing them from buying, followed by 75 percent who said obtaining a mortgage was proving to be a big barrier.

Many of the survey respondents said they’ve struggled to pay housing costs at some point in their life. Among U.S. respondents, 27 percent of respondents said they struggled to pay housing costs in their 20s; 22 percent in their 30s; 11 percent in their 40s; and 9 percent in their 50s.

Source: “Nine Out of 10 Americans and Canadians Call for Affordable Housing Solutions,” Habitat for Humanity (June 20, 2017)

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