A majority of Americans and Canadians say we are not paying enough attention to affordable housing needs and solutions, according to Habitat for Humanity’s Affordable Housing Survey. With critical housing shortages across both countries, cost remains a major barrier preventing families from accessing decent homes with an affordable mortgage.

“In many ways, housing is an invisible crisis. There are still too many families without access to safe, secure and affordable housing,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “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. At Habitat, we are committed to continue partnering with communities, governments and the private sector to create affordable housing solutions and empower families working toward a path to homeownership.”

On behalf of Habitat for Humanity, PSB surveyed 1,000 people in the United States and Canada, examining the perceptions, challenges to and benefits of affordable housing in both countries.

Homeownership remains a top achievement for most people, from renters to current homeowners. Nine out of ten of Americans (92 percent) say owning a home is one of their greatest achievements in life. Among renters, a majority of Americans (68 percent) cite owning a home as one of their top goals.

While homeownership is an aspiration for a majority, it remains out of reach for too many individuals and families. Nine out of ten Americans and Canadians recognize this, saying they believe it is important to find solutions to the lack of affordable housing. Moreover, compared with issues like safety (16 percent) and quality (11 percent) affordability is a top U.S. housing issue (59 percent), with 75 percent saying not enough attention is paid to the issue.

Compared with other challenges, high cost remains the top barrier to homeownership (84 percent in the U.S.), closely followed by the ability to obtain a mortgage (75 percent). Most do not expect the situation to get much better: A majority of U.S. (72 percent) and Canadian (84 percent) respondents say housing costs will go up in the next five years.

Most have struggled with housing costs at some point in their lifetime. A quarter of U.S. homeowners currently struggle to pay housing costs, while 65 percent say they have struggled with housing costs at some point in their lives:

Difficulty paying
housing costs…

United States


…in my 20s

27 percent

33 percent

…in my 30s

22 percent

22 percent

…in my 40s

11 percent

13 percent

…in my 50s

9 percent

10 percent

Nine out of ten Americans (91 percent) report owning a home has made them more responsible, with four in ten reporting that it has also helped them build a nest egg (44 percent) and given them stability (41 percent).

Affordable housing is also the foundation for reducing poverty and achieving economic growth, with the potential to positively impact a wider range of larger societal issues. At least eight out of ten Americans and Canadians agree that having affordable, stable housing contributes to public health, community safety, economic growth and education.

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