There are fewer homeowners in Chicago than there were last year, and the year before that. Homeownership in the city is at a 16-year low. Nationwide, it hasn’t been lower since 1967.
You wouldn’t know it from how little lip service Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have paid to housing this election, but housing remains as important to our economy and political system as it was in 2008. Housing is the bedrock of the American economy, accounting for an average of 15 to 18 percent of the country’s GDP. Housing issues are so pertinent that the National Association of Homebuilders, a politically neutral organization, decided this year to endorse congressional candidates for the first time ever in its 74-year history. NAHB Chairman Ed Brady said that the move was necessary to ensure the “housing and economic recovery stays on track.” As of this writing, those endorsements have not been announced.
Chicago’s homeownership rate fell 3 percentage points to 63.9 percent from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015, according to U.S. Census data. The drop is symptomatic of institutional problems that have dampened attitudes towards homeownership and made it more difficult to buy a home, like Illinois’ prolonged budget impasse.