WASHINGTON – A growing number of Americans can’t afford a home or don’t want to own one, a trend that’s spawning a generation of renters and a rise in apartment construction.
Many of the new renters are former owners who lost homes to foreclosure or bankruptcy. For others who could afford one, a home now feels too costly, too risky or unlikely to appreciate enough to make it a worthwhile investment.
The proportion of U.S. households that own homes is at its lowest point since 1998. When the housing bubble burst four years ago, 31.6 percent of households were renters. Now, it’s at 33.6 percent and rising. Since the housing meltdown, nearly 3 million households have become renters. At least 3 million more are expected by 2015, according to census data analyzed by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and The Associated Press.
All told, nearly 38 million households are renters.