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Millions of new U.S. apartments will be needed to meet growing rental demand

July 28, 2022 Updated Thu., July 28, 2022 at 3:53 p.m.

Construction workers  work on a new apartment building in Los Angeles on March 20, 2020.  (Tribune News Service )
Construction workers  work on a new apartment building in Los Angeles on March 20, 2020. (Tribune News Service )
By Steve Brown Tribune News Service

A rental housing shortage in many major U.S. cities has fueled huge rent increases as apartment vacancies have plunged.

To keep up with demand and tackle the shortages, apartment developers need to build more than 4 million units nationwide over the next 13 years, according to a study by the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association.

Currently the U.S. is short by about 600,000 apartments. The demand is even greater for affordable units.

The number of U.S. apartments priced at less than $1,000 a month fell by 4.7 million units between 2015 and 2020, according to industry analysts.

Texas, Florida and California will need 1.5 million additional apartments – 40% of the nationwide building – by 2035, the apartment industry researchers said.

“The lack of available housing is holding our country back,” National Multifamily Housing Council president and CEO Doug Bibby said in a statement.

“Whether it is a multifamily residence, duplex or single-family home, we need a massive supply of new for sale and rental homes – including millions of new apartments by 2035.”

A slowdown in building during the Great Recession, restrictive zoning laws and rising construction costs have kept apartment building totals below what’s needed in many metro areas.

“Put simply, we do not have enough housing,” National Apartment Association president and CEO Bob Pinnegar said.

“The U.S. must build 3.7 million new apartments just to meet future demand, on top of a 600,000-unit deficit and loss of 4.7 million affordable apartment homes.

“It is time to reverse course after decades of underbuilding, and instead pursue responsible and sustainable policies that will not only meet this demand but address the missing middle and loss of affordable housing stock.”

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